Palomar Specialty Taps AIR Worldwide Probabilistic Modeling for California Flood Program

AIR’s modeling has enabled Palomar to ‘thoughtfully and competitively’ price a flood insurance product in the private market to compete with FEMA’s NFIP.

(View of La Jolla, Calif., home of Palomar Specialty. Photo credit: SD Dirk.)

Palomar Specialty Insurance Company (La Jolla, Calif.) has leveraged catastrophe modeling firm AIR Worldwide’s (Boston) probabilistic flood model for the United States to launch Flood Guard, a private flood program powered by what the carrier calls a highly advanced and granular proprietary rating system.

Jon Christianson, COO, Palomar Specialty.

Jon Christianson, COO, Palomar Specialty.

“We are extremely pleased to become the first admitted insurance company to successfully launch a stand-alone residential flood insurance product in California,” comments Jon Christianson, COO, Palomar Specialty. “Historically, the insurance industry has struggled to develop new products for hazards such as flood. That has changed with the introduction of AIR’s innovative new flood model for the U.S. Now there’s a credible probabilistic model in the market that enables Palomar to thoughtfully and competitively price a flood insurance product in the private market.”

Sophisticated Rating Algorithm and Online Platform

Palomar Specialty characterizes Flood Guard as providing innovative residential flood coverage as an alternative to FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Through its sophisticated rating algorithm and online platform, Flood Guard offers affordable coverage and provides agents the ability to quote and bind coverage in minutes, according to the insurer. Palomar Specialty is writing Flood Guard exclusively through agents appointed with Prospect General Insurance Agency.

“Palomar Specialty has a wealth of experience leveraging technology and catastrophe analytics to automate our earthquake and wind products,” comments Mac Armstrong, CEO, Palomar Specialty. “Flood Guard is a natural extension of our analytical approach in developing new products that resonate with agents and property owners.”

Rob Newbold, EVP, Business Development and Consulting & Client Services, AIR Worldwide.

Rob Newbold, EVP, Business Development and
Consulting & Client Services, AIR Worldwide.

AIR Worldwide released its flood model in Oct. 2014, describing it as a first-of-its-kind, detailed, physically based probabilistic inland flood model for the United States. AIR says the model provides insurers and other stakeholders with a comprehensive tool for assessing and managing inland flood risk at a high resolution for locations on and off the many and varied floodplains across the United States.

Paving the Way for Homeowners and Businesses to Get Flood Insurance

“We applaud Palomar for its efforts to bring flood insurance to the private market,” comments Rob Newbold, executive VP, AIR Worldwide. “By using AIR’s probabilistic flood model in its rate filing, Palomar is paving the way for more homeowners and businesses to get flood insurance in the state of California. The company truly is an innovator in this space and is helping to create a strong and vibrant private flood insurance market.”


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Anthony R. O’Donnell // Anthony O'Donnell is Executive Editor of Insurance Innovation Reporter. For nearly two decades, he has been an observer and commentator on the use of information technology in the insurance industry, following industry trends and writing about the use of IT across all sectors of the insurance industry. He can be reached at or (503) 936-2803.

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