As another hurricane season unfolds, property/casualty insurers can either cross their figures or check their catastrophe models. While the efficacy of the former is set in stone, advances in the latter have occurred steadily.

Indeed, incremental improvements in modeling technologies, coupled with a widespread movement toward analytical rigor, have given carriers a much more granular view of the risks they insure. Currently, an insurer can easily accumulate much more accurate data about where a risk is located, how a risk is built and how it's occupied than ever before. A proliferation of geospatial and other information databases enable insurers to compare third-party information against their own information - all from an underwriters' desktop. This data, in turn, becomes a feedstock for models of ever-increasing complexity developed by firms such as Oakland-based EQECAT Inc., Newark, Calif.-based Risk Management Solutions Inc. and Boston-based AIR Worldwide Corp.

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