As former Hurricane, now Tropical Storm Isaac, departs the greater New Orleans area, insurers will assess the damage and loss estimates will roll in. But while the storm was battering the area with heavy rains and wind, I asked P&C insurers whom I was interviewing for other stories to share their opinions. Following are selections from those conversations:
Andrew Castaldi, SVP and head of catastrophe perils, Americas Hub, Swiss Re:
The storm that comes to mind -- and I'm not sure what the preceding weeks have been there as far as rainfall -- is Allison, which impacted Houston. That storm stalled right over Houston, and because of the building up, new flood zones were created. New Orleans has some advantages that Houston doesn't have, like pumping stations.
I think the city and the state and federal governments have made significant investments in the levees protecting the city over the past five years. I think the city is beautiful, what they've done with it. But regardless, it is still a highly exposed city, and one of the most highly exposed cities to hurricanes. What concerns me most is the threat of flooding -- with each year, that threat increases as the city continues to sink and the sea level rises.
Kathy Koontz, AVP, customer information management, Nationwide
I came to Nationwide from the retail industry, and I have always been impressed with the member focus that Nationwide has, especially when there's a catastrophe that's threatening our members. From the top down, the mood whenever there's an event happening is, "Let's get everything organized and aligned so we can deliver on our promise." It's really interesting to me as someone who's new to the industry to see that commitment and this is why we exist and why people can have trust in nationwide. It's times when there are catastrophes occurring that this comes out the most.
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