2018 Risk All Star: Ryan Bank

This Risk Manager Put Critical CAT Data at the Industry’s Fingertips

2018 Risk All Star winner Ryan Bank leads a coalition that’s helping insurers and government agencies better understand severe weather risks.
By: | September 14, 2018 • 2 min read

Ryan Bank, managing director, Geospatial Intelligence Center, National Insurance Crime Bureau

Technology to control the weather remains deep in the realm of science fiction. But new technology to track the effects of severe weather, in great detail, is very much reality.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) has been conducting highly detailed aerial mapping across the country for several years. In 2015, after a cluster of nine tornadoes struck in and around Coal City, Ill., the mapping capabilities were used to detail the storm damage. Since then the effort has been expanded and formalized into the Geospatial Intelligence Center (GIC).

Ryan Bank, managing director of GIC, led the creation of the consortium behind the center, including Vexcel Imaging, a global aerial imaging company, and Esri, a worldwide provider of software for mapping and spatial analytics. GIC came of age in 2017 when it was able to shoot, process and send to constituents 360-degree, three-dimensional, survey-grade maps of the damage wrought by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.

“The first full-scale use was for Harvey,” said Bank. “We were able to process and deliver the images 24-hours after wheels down on the collections flights. We were then deployed for Irma and Maria, as well as the wildfires in California.”

GIC has a fleet of 150 contract aircrafts on call, mostly twin-engine turboprops. They are fitted with cameras worth $1.5 million each. “NICB is in every command center in the country,” said Bank. “We fly before the roadblocks are lifted.”


Beyond the ultra-high-resolution cameras, GIC uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to determine damage. For comparison, maps used by the Federal Emergency Management Agency for disaster planning are accurate to within 10 feet. The GIC maps have a granularity of 7.5 centimeters.

“This changes things,” said Bank. He said commercial underwriters and government agencies now have much better information to work off of in underwriting or providing aid.

For example, two identical adjacent homes may appear on maps as similar risks, but the foundation of one may be five feet higher. That makes it a lower flood risk.

“NICB is in every command center in the country. We fly before the roadblocks are lifted.” — Ryan Bank, managing director, Geospatial Intelligence Center, National Insurance Crime Bureau

“This drastically reduced the time needed to collect, process and produce imagery after a catastrophic event,” said Alexander Martonik, industry specialist for financial services and insurance at Esri. “Led by Ryan, the coalition acquired and published high-resolution imagery for nearly 24,000 square miles across Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and California, leveraging tools from us and Vexcel.”

Martonik detailed that “the coalition rapidly processed and published 100 terabytes of source data from aerial imagery, providing key context to stakeholders in the days after the [events]. To put this in perspective, using traditional workflows, it could take weeks or even months to process this data and create a set of orthophoto mosaics,” a seamless aerial view over wide geographic areas. &


Risk All Stars stand out from their peers by overcoming challenges through exceptional problem solving, creativity, clarity of vision and passion.

See the complete list of 2018 Risk All Stars.

Gregory DL Morris is an independent business journalist based in New York with 25 years’ experience in industry, energy, finance and transportation. He can be reached at [email protected]

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

4 Companies That Rocked It by Treating Injured Workers as Equals; Not Adversaries

The 2018 Teddy Award winners built their programs around people, not claims, and offer proof that a worker-centric approach is a smarter way to operate.
By: | October 30, 2018 • 3 min read

Across the workers’ compensation industry, the concept of a worker advocacy model has been around for a while, but has only seen notable adoption in recent years.

Even among those not adopting a formal advocacy approach, mindsets are shifting. Formerly claims-centric programs are becoming worker-centric and it’s a win all around: better outcomes; greater productivity; safer, healthier employees and a stronger bottom line.


That’s what you’ll see in this month’s issue of Risk & Insurance® when you read the profiles of the four recipients of the 2018 Theodore Roosevelt Workers’ Compensation and Disability Management Award, sponsored by PMA Companies. These four programs put workers front and center in everything they do.

“We were focused on building up a program with an eye on our partner experience. Cost was at the bottom of the list. Doing a better job by our partners was at the top,” said Steve Legg, director of risk management for Starbucks.

Starbucks put claims reporting in the hands of its partners, an exemplary act of trust. The coffee company also put itself in workers’ shoes to identify and remove points of friction.

That led to a call center run by Starbucks’ TPA and a dedicated telephonic case management team so that partners can speak to a live person without the frustration of ‘phone tag’ and unanswered questions.

“We were focused on building up a program with an eye on our partner experience. Cost was at the bottom of the list. Doing a better job by our partners was at the top.” — Steve Legg, director of risk management, Starbucks

Starbucks also implemented direct deposit for lost-time pay, eliminating stressful wait times for injured partners, and allowing them to focus on healing.

For Starbucks, as for all of the 2018 Teddy Award winners, the approach is netting measurable results. With higher partner satisfaction, it has seen a 50 percent decrease in litigation.

Teddy winner Main Line Health (MLH) adopted worker advocacy in a way that goes far beyond claims.

Employees who identify and report safety hazards can take credit for their actions by sending out a formal “Employee Safety Message” to nearly 11,000 mailboxes across the organization.

“The recognition is pretty cool,” said Steve Besack, system director, claims management and workers’ compensation for the health system.

MLH also takes a non-adversarial approach to workers with repeat injuries, seeing them as a resource for identifying areas of improvement.

“When you look at ‘repeat offenders’ in an unconventional way, they’re a great asset to the program, not a liability,” said Mike Miller, manager, workers’ compensation and employee safety for MLH.

Teddy winner Monmouth County, N.J. utilizes high-tech motion capture technology to reduce the chance of placing new hires in jobs that are likely to hurt them.

Monmouth County also adopted numerous wellness initiatives that help workers manage their weight and improve their wellbeing overall.

“You should see the looks on their faces when their cholesterol is down, they’ve lost weight and their blood sugar is better. We’ve had people lose 30 and 40 pounds,” said William McGuane, the county’s manager of benefits and workers’ compensation.


Do these sound like minor program elements? The math says otherwise: Claims severity has plunged from $5.5 million in 2009 to $1.3 million in 2017.

At the University of Pennsylvania, putting workers first means getting out from behind the desk and finding out what each one of them is tasked with, day in, day out — and looking for ways to make each of those tasks safer.

Regular observations across the sprawling campus have resulted in a phenomenal number of process and equipment changes that seem simple on their own, but in combination have created a substantially safer, healthier campus and improved employee morale.

UPenn’s workers’ comp costs, in the seven-digit figures in 2009, have been virtually cut in half.

Risk & Insurance® is proud to honor the work of these four organizations. We hope their stories inspire other organizations to be true partners with the employees they depend on. &

Michelle Kerr is associate editor of Risk & Insurance. She can be reached at [email protected]