images/NERR_forum.png images/NERR_date.png
October 10, 2014

Media Contact: Eric Cote

RenaissanceRe Risk Sciences Foundation Convenes Insurance Industry Experts, Leading Policy Makers and Scientists to Discuss Risk and Resilience in a Post-Sandy Era

Collaboration is a First Step but More Action Needed

Stamford, CT – With the two year anniversary of Sandy just weeks away, the RenaissanceRe Risk Sciences Foundation convened the Northeast Risk & Resilience Leadership Forum in Stamford, CT on October 8, 2014, bringing together approximately 250 industry leaders, environmentalists, policy makers, and scientists to assess lessons learned from the second costliest storm in U.S. history and to examine best practices for mitigating and adapting to severe weather in the future.

The day-long forum tackled a number of important issues raised by Sandy through panel discussions and keynote speeches from powerful figures in government and the environmental community.

U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) a member of Congress's Joint Economic Committee, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, addressed the delegates and said he will continue to push Congress to adopt strong and proactive environmental policies that combat climate change, curb pollution, invest in renewable energy, and promote sustainable development solutions.

"I'm thrilled that such a distinguished group of disaster resilience experts was able to assemble in Stamford," said Murphy. "It's not a question of whether we'll see another Superstorm Sandy, but only a question of when. We need the best minds working together on these complex challenges, and I hope today's event helped move us toward that goal."

David Marra, SVP and Chief Underwriting Officer - Casualty & Specialty, RenaissanceRe, and head of RenaissanceRe's newly-launched Connecticut office, led a panel on the changing view of risk in the Northeast. Mr. Marra said that the forum presented a great opportunity for RenaissanceRe to use its thought leadership and deep expertise in natural catastrophe risk to raise awareness of the complex issues in this area and support better risk mitigation and preparedness.

"Working in collaboration with our partners in academia, science, commerce, government and the non-profit sector, today's event brought experts and decision-makers together for a timely and relevant discussion," he said. "With a powerful concentration of industry talent and as a state heavily impacted by Sandy, Connecticut was the ideal place for such a forum."

The Northeast Risk & Resilience Leadership Forum was the tenth in a series of Risk Mitigation Leadership Forums convened by the RenaissanceRe Risk Sciences Foundation. Stephen Weinstein, RenaissanceRe's General Counsel, is Chairman of the RenaissanceRe Risk Sciences Foundation. "I want to thank the Forum's participants for contributing to such a productive discussion about the impact of Sandy on the Northeast region and what we all need to do to protect people and property from the deadly effects of natural disasters," said Weinstein. "Our collective goal is to move the nation towards a proactive rather than reactive response to severe weather and other disasters through increased resiliency measures, improved construction practices, and reformed financing mechanisms in which willing private sector participants bear a larger share of their costs and pursue innovation to enhance their affordability. If we succeed, we will reduce both the life safety risks and economic costs of these increasing perils."

Debra Ballen, General Counsel for the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS), a Forum co-sponsor, applauded the RenaissanceRe Risk Sciences Foundation for convening the forum and focusing attention on regional resilience issues in the aftermath of Sandy.

"One of the important contributions the scientists and meteorologists taking part in the forum made was giving us a better understanding of the unique weather conditions facing the Northeast," said Ballen. "This insight will allow the insurance industry to help advance best practices in rebuilding that are universal but also tailored to the unique needs of each region."

Other prominent industry leaders taking part in the forum included Katherine Greig, Senior Policy Advisor, Climate Change and Insurance in the New York City Mayor's Office of Recovery and Resiliency; Bradley Kading, President and Executive Director, Association of Bermuda Insurers & Reinsurers (ABIR), and Craig Tillman, President, WeatherPredict Consulting Inc.

Panel discussions explored what made Sandy a "Super Storm", how it was different from other major hurricanes and whether Sandy was the "big one." Panels also delved into how the view of risk in the region has changed since Sandy, ways to boost resilient recovery following a major event, the appropriate role of government in disaster education, response and recovery, and the question of whether major urban centers were sufficiently prepared to deal with severe weather in the future. The role of coastal ecosystems and land use in protecting communities in the Northeast against severe weather was also addressed.

In addition to IBHS, other forum co-sponsors included the Center for Clean Air Policy (CCAP), the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH), the Union of Concerned Scientists, the University of Connecticut Sea Grant program, and WeatherPredict Consulting Inc.

More information about the Northeast Risk & Resilience Leadership Forum is available at