The insurance industry’s weather simulator is more awesome than your weather simulator. It can hold nine houses, create hurricane-force conditions on its interior via 750,000-gallon tanks of water, and it just opened.
The Institute Business & Home Safety, an organization backed by the insurance industry, built the $40 million hangar of destruction in South Carolina.
With an update next year, “we’ll shoot hail down from the rafters of the building to simulate hail storms,” said Tim Reinhold, senior vice president of research at Tampa-based IBHS. The goal is to improve building codes and maintenance practices in disaster-prone regions. Such labs, insurers say, help reduce their exposure to catastrophic losses—even at a cost of $100,000 for each large hurricane simulation. [Washington Post]
IBHS conducted its first tests yesterday, blasting a normally constructed house and another made of stronger materials with winds stirred up by 105 giants fans.
States enact laws against texting while driving, hoping to reduce accidents. In the time after those laws go into effect, the number of accidents in those states doesn’t decline. So are the laws a bad idea?
The question arises from a report out this week by the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI), a division of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The study looked at accident rates in Minnesota, California, Washington, and Louisiana before and after those states enacted their texting-while-driving bans. The authors found no reduction in the number of crashes, and actually saw increases in three states. (They also compared those states to others in their regions without bans to ensure that the numbers they’d found weren’t part of a larger trend.)
So what gives? For the IIHS, this is proof that texting laws aren’t doing any good, and might even be doing harm.
For years, farmers in Kenya’s arid north have suffered huge losses when droughts wiped out their cattle herds. Now, they have a means to protect their sole source of livelihood when rains fail and grasslands disappear. A new insurance scheme hopes to safeguard cattle-rearers in northern Kenya’s drought-prone Marsabit district by using satellite imagery to track changing landscapes and the subsequent loss of cattle.
The program, launched by the International Livestock Research Institute, is being billed as the world’s first insurance program to track changing pastoral grounds. When the satellite photos reveal that a verdant green landscape has changed to a dry brown, the insurance kicks in and farmers can collect their payments. The program will make things easier for insurance companies–for whom estimating losses in the past has been all but impossible. Partly because it has simply been too expensive for insurers to go and count the number of dead animals which might be spread over a vast rural area [BBC]. The scheme’s launch comes at a time when the Marsabit region has suffered 28 droughts in the last 100 years and four in the past decade alone [Kenya Broadcasting Corporation].