Risk & Insurance Conference Update: What Was Discussed at the 2021 National Disaster Resilience Conference

Weather and risk professionals gathered in Florida for the 2021 National Disaster Resilience Conference.
By: | January 6, 2022

FLASH, the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, brought together weather celebrities, scientists and risk management professionals for three days of focused content at its annual National Disaster Resilience Conference (NDRC) held December 1-3, 2021, in Clearwater, Florida. 

The conference theme this year was The People, Professionals, and Passion of our Movement — and this resonated in every session. Featuring four keynotes, a bevy of panels, general session and interviews, and three breakfast breakout sessions, NDRC21 showcased plenty of interesting content for attendees.

Every NDRC participant was passionate about resilience, disaster recovery and human safety. All three days were filled with learning about technical topics, networking and advancing the mission of FLASH.

“The key goal we have when we design our program is to generate energy and excitement and create and sustain momentum for our cause. An NDRC perk is bringing everyone together and creating synergy so everyone leaves reenergized and enthusiastic that we can do this,” said  Leslie Chapman-Henderson, president and CEO of FLASH.

Interdisciplinary Educational Sessions Featured Diverse Perspectives 

Leslie Chapman-Henderson, president and CEO of FLASH

Sessions were organized into panels with speakers from various backgrounds — an insurance or risk professional was joined by a meteorologist, a government official and a researcher or service provider.

The diverse viewpoints helped illustrate the various challenges and rewards involved with disaster safety and resilience. 

These diverse perspectives made NDRC21 different. And the passion these experts demonstrated for their specialties came through in the educational sessions. 

“NDRC is the nexus to bring all these different people together from different backgrounds. People come to NDRC with an unsolved challenge, and they leave with the potential to solve it. We call it the incubator because we have started conversations in the past that have led to some really cool things,”  Chapman-Henderson said. 

The conference didn’t shy away from discussing how climate change is affecting disaster and resiliency.

One session featured the California deputy commissioner on climate and sustainability speaking about California’s approach to insurance in light of its challenges with wildfires and potential future climate change issues.

FEMA officials in another spoke about how its hazard mitigation assistance programs are helping drive urgency around climate change. 

An insightful early morning session featured a senior policy and performance underwriter from USAA, a senior scientist with the National Wildlife Federation, and the director of the National Fire Protection Association’s fire & life safety policy institute. These speakers focused their discussion on private-public flood insurance solutions, new flood-loss modeling technology, and how we can work together to reduce the risk to communities from wildfire and floods. 

Another breakout session focused on the government-side of resiliency, with a look at how policy at the state and local level is affecting resiliency. The speakers, policymakers from two states, talked about state and federal programs to drive resilience and how innovation and collaboration at every level are critical. 

Vendors with innovative products were invited to attend NDRC as well. Resilient building products, safety enhancements and 3D-printed houses were some of the featured products. One panel had a speaker from a manufacturer of 3D-printed houses — she explained once their technology is optimized, her company could construct a home for a displaced family in less than four days, oftentimes faster than FEMA can place an emergency trailer. 

A highlight of the conference was the closing session featuring weather and disaster safety experts Jim Cantore, Ginger Zee, Craig Herrera, Rob Perillo, Andy Green, and Kenneth Graham.

The group focused on the role of the weather industry in the disaster safety movement and the ways in which risk and weather professionals can work together. By telling their stories, they illustrated the importance of building for safety and resiliency. 

FLASH Initiatives Showcased at NDRC21 

Over the years, FLASH has created many different PSAs and initiatives in partnership with other organizations, like the Weather Channel and Disney. Finding new and creative ways to teach the message of disaster safety and resilience to the public is one goal.

PSAs over the years include ‘Turn around, Don’t Drown,” educating drivers to turn around if they encounter flooded roads; and “No Code, No Confidence,” about lacking building codes. 

One FLASH initiative introduced at NDRC21 is called the Buyer’s Guide to Resilient Homes (BGRH).

Created by FLASH with support from others, the BGRH is designed to fill a gap in the marketplace to educate consumers about the ways in which their homes can be resilient and sustainable.

The next step for the BGRH is partnerships with real estate professionals to get the guide to as many home buyers as possible. The BGRH empowers home shoppers to ask the right questions about sustainability and resiliency when purchasing their new homes. &

Abi Potter Clough, MBA, CPCU, is a keynote speaker, author and business consultant focused on Insurtech, leadership and strategy. She has over 15 years of experience at a Fortune 500 company with expertise in P&C claims operational leadership, lean management consulting, digital communications and Insurtech. As the past chair of the International Insurance Interest Group of the CPCU Society, Abi remains involved in many international initiatives and projects. She has published two books about change management and relocation. Abi can be reached at [email protected].

More from Risk & Insurance