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Risk Insider: Jon Hall

A Rising Tide

By: | June 22, 2017 • 3 min read
Jonathan W. Hall is chief operating officer at FM Global. He oversees FM Global’s insurance operations and insurance staff functions, as well as the FM Global Resilience Index, a data driven resource that ranks the business resilience of 130 countries and regions. He can be reached at [email protected]

Earthquakes. Tropical cyclones. Snow. Flooding. Of all the natural hazards, studies show that flood is the most expensive. According to a report published by Aon Benfield in 2016, flooding was the costliest overall peril for the fourth consecutive year, at $62 billion.

Our world’s climate is changing, and some weather patterns are shifting. Due to the rise in world population, a rise in value at risk, increasing vulnerability due to globalization, and the rapid development of emerging markets which are less resilient, property loss from natural catastrophes has been, and will continue to be, ever more costly.

Many businesses are questioning if they’re doing enough to prepare for and adapt to these catastrophes. But just how should businesses plan to stem the rising tide? Of all the natural disaster losses, flood loss can be both the most predictable and the most preventable, so armed with clear information, businesses can take action to protect their value.

The most obvious action is to locate far from low-lying river, coastal or other flood-prone areas. If that isn’t possible, however, there are some proactive steps businesses can take to reduce their risk of potential flood damage and business interruption.

Among the preparations businesses can take to reduce the impact of flood is permanently moving all electrical, computer and telecommunications equipment safely out of low-lying interior and outside areas to settings above the flood level.

Flood preparation and awareness are key. Facilities located within high-hazard flood zones will eventually experience major flooding. In addition, FM Global has always recommended that clients not build in moderate-hazard (500-year flood-exposed) areas. In fact, in many areas around the world, building codes and regulations now call for critical infrastructure occupancies, such as utilities, emergency services, schools and hospitals, to build higher or protect against the 500-year flood level.

Nearly one in 10 commercial facilities are already located within a flood zone, and the best loss prevention practice for these properties is unremitting vigilance. While there is no way to prevent a flood from occurring, businesses can enhance their resilience by preparing for whatever precipitation extremes could occur. This can’t happen, however, without a contingency plan. Without a plan, buildings, machinery, data centers, transportation networks, supply chains, employees and customers are all at risk.

Facilities at risk for flooding must prepare well in advance to keep water out of business-critical areas to limit downtime and service interruptions. Smart businesses have a clear plan for what they will do when flooding is imminent, including choosing the best location for their flood barriers, sealing walls and floors, and providing flood pumps and other mitigation equipment that will help maintain business continuity.

Among the preparations businesses can take to reduce the impact of flood is permanently moving all electrical, computer and telecommunications equipment safely out of low-lying interior and outside areas to settings above the flood level.

FM Global’s recently released interactive Global Flood Map presents business executives with a powerful strategic planning tool, and risk managers with a way to address potential flood exposure around the world. Built using hydrology and hydraulic science, the Global Flood Map considers, among other factors, essential information like rainfall, evaporation, snowmelt and terrain. A version of the map is available for use by businesses and the public at no cost.

The map can help users determine whether their business locations reside in a potential flood zone by simply typing in physical addresses. The map identifies potential 100 year flood zones — highlighted in pink — and potential 500-year flood zones highlighted in yellow. The term 100-year flood exposure can be misleading. Over the 30-year life of a facility (or a risk manager’s career), there is a one in four chance your facility will flood if it is located in a 100-year flood zone, and a one in six chance if it is located in a 500-year zone.

Knowing their unique flood risk helps prepare businesses to implement the best solutions for when a disaster strikes, and gives them the opportunity to stem the rising tide.

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

Risk Management

The Profession

The risk manager for Boyd Gaming Corp. says curiosity keeps him engaged, and continual education will be the key to managing emerging risks.
By: | May 1, 2018 • 4 min read

R&I: What was your first job?

I was trained as an accountant, worked in public accounting and became a CPA. Being comfortable with numbers is helpful in my current role, and obviously, the language of business is financial statements, so it helps.

R&I: How did you come to work in risk management?

Working in finance in the corporate environment included the review of budgets and the analysis of business expenses. I quickly found the area of benefits and insurance — and how “accepting risk” impacted those expenses — to be fascinating. I asked a lot of questions. Be careful what you ask for — I soon found myself responsible for those insurance areas and haven’t looked back!

R&I: What is the risk management community doing right?

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I have found the risk management community to be a close-knit group, whether that’s industry professionals, risk managers with other companies or support organizations like RIMS and other regional groups. The expertise of the carriers and specialty vendors to develop new products and programs, along with the appropriate education, will continue to be of key importance to companies going forward.

R&I: What’s been the biggest change in the risk management and insurance industry since you’ve been in it?

As I’m sure many in the insurance field would agree, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 changed our world and our industry. It was a particularly intense time and certainly a baptism by fire for people like me who were relatively new to the industry. This event clearly accelerated the switch to the acceptance of more risk, which impacted mitigation strategies and programs.

Bob Berglund, vice president, benefits and insurance, Boyd Gaming Corp.

R&I: What emerging commercial risk most concerns you?

The fast-paced threat that cyber security represents today. Our company, like so many companies, is reliant upon computers, software and IT expertise in our everyday existence. This new risk has forged an even stronger relationship between risk management and our IT department as we work together to address this growing threat.

Additionally, the shooting event in Las Vegas in 2017 will have an enduring impact on firms that host large gatherings and arena-style events all over the world, and our company is no exception.

R&I: What insurance carrier do you have the highest opinion of?

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With the various types of insurance programs we employ, I have been fortunate to work with most of the large national and international carriers — all of whom employ talented people with a vast array of resources.

R&I:  How much business do you do direct versus going through a broker?

We use brokers for many of our professional coverages, such as property, casualty, D&O and cyber. We are self-insured under our health plans, with close to 25,000 members. We tend to manage those programs internally and utilize direct relationships with carriers and specialty vendors to tailor a plan that works best for team members.

R&I: Who is your mentor and why?

I have been fortunate to have worked alongside some smart and insightful people during my career. A key piece of advice, said in many different ways, has served me well. Simply stated: “Seek to understand before being understood.”

What this has meant to me is try everything you can to learn about something, new or old. After you have gained this knowledge, you can begin to access and maybe suggest changes or adjustments. Being curious has always been a personal enjoyment for me in business, and I have found people are more than willing to lend a hand, offer information and advice — you just need to ask. Building those alliances and foundations of knowledge on a subject matter makes tackling the future more exciting and fruitful.

R&I: What have you accomplished that you are proudest of?

Our benefit health plan is much more than handing out an insurance card at the beginning of the year. We encourage our team members and their families to learn about their personal health, get engaged in a variety of health and wellness programs and try to live life in the healthiest possible way. The result of that is literally hundreds of testimonials from our members every year on how they have lost weight, changed their lifestyle and gotten off medications. It is extremely rewarding and is a testament to [our] close-knit corporate culture.

R&I: What’s the best restaurant you’ve ever eaten at?

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Some will remember the volcano eruption in Iceland in spring of 2010. I was just finishing a week of meetings in London with Lloyd’s syndicates related to our property insurance placement when the airspace in England and most of northern Europe was shut down — no airplanes in or out! Flights were ultimately canceled for the following five days. Therefore, with a few other stranded visitors like myself, we experimented and tried out new restaurants every day until we could leave. It was a very interesting time!

R&I: What is the riskiest activity you ever engaged in?

I am originally from Canada, and I played ice hockey from the time I was four years old up until quite recently. Too many surgeries sadly forced my recent retirement.

R&I: What do your friends and family think you do?

That’s a funny one … I am a CPA working in the casino industry, doing insurance and risk management, so neighbors and acquaintances think I either do tax returns or they think I’m a blackjack dealer at the casino!




Katie Dwyer is an associate editor at Risk & Insurance®. She can be reached at [email protected]