The opposite phases of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) cycle have shaped businesses and communities across the globe. From droughts to severe flooding, and the ongoing economic and societal impacts from these events, carriers need to have an understanding of just how to forecast their response to a declared ENSO event.

Scott Newland, General Manager – Government and Long-Tail Claims, has worked through many of these severe weather events and shared his top tips for carriers.


  • Q) What do we typically see during a La Niña or El Niño event?

Scott Newland (SN) Typically for an El Niño we see an increased risk for widespread, damaging bushfires. In hot, arid climates across Australia and North America, these bushfires can quickly see damages rise into the millions as established communities are threatened. On the other hand, during a La Niña, carriers should expect to see an increase in rain events, leading to flooding, tropical cyclones or severe storms causing damage to homes and businesses.


  • Q) Do you believe one is worse than the other?

SN) No, both can have devastating impacts to both individuals and communities.


  • Q) What can carriers do to prepare for a declared event?

SN) It is critical carriers have a documented event or surge plan for the various event types they will face (e.g. flood, bushfires, cyclone), and regularly test this plan. It’s not good enough to simply have the plan stored away, it needs to be regularly reviewed and tested to make sure it is really up to scratch.

This plan should include how the business will mitigate risks for its customers, clients and its own operations. This could include scaling up the headcount or outsourcing during an event to ensure you continue meeting customer expectations.


  • Q) What are the possible outcomes for a carrier who is unprepared for a declared event?

SN) The old adage is true, failure to plan means planning for failure. If you are not prepared for an event you could see not only a loss of customers due to reputational damage from missed expectations but also employee burnout and increased turnover and cost leakage as a result of poor training practices, processes or financial controls.


  • Q) What advice would you give to a carrier who wants to be better prepared for La Niñas and El Niños?

SN) Make sure you have retained a dedicated catastrophe or crisis management team, who has proven capability across technical expertise, scalability and the rapid deployment of operational teams. These factors are critical to whether your business sinks or swims during, and after, a surge event. Pre-event training needs to be supported by a highly-experienced team of catastrophe claim experts, with the ability to outsource and scale your business at short notice. This focus should mitigate additional pressure on your business by providing the following:

  • Pre trained Event resources
  • Deployment of designated Event call centre response
  • Establishment of dedicated Claims response teams
  • Management of portfolio specific tranches
  • If you are looking for more experienced advice on how to optimise your business during La Niñas or El Niños, reach out to Gallagher Bassett today.

    Blog Author

    Scott Newland

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