We know you count on us for up-to-date, reliable data so you can accurately evaluate risk. What you may not realize is that we also count on you to improve our data. In this post, we'll give you a behind-the-scenes look at our updating processes and show you how we use your input. We'll also share some innovations we're working on that are designed to make your job easier.
Updating the data you rely on
The Protection Class (PC) and Loss Cost data we produce can have an impact on your customers and the premiums they pay. You need to feel confident that data is timely and reliable, and so do insurance consumers. That group includes you along with everyone on the WSRB team. Anyone with a homeowners, auto, personal liability or other policy wants to know the policy is priced fairly. So, we take our responsibility to provide accurate data seriously.
Determining PCs and Loss Costs involves many data points. For example, the PC for an individual structure depends on the community's PC, how far the structure is from the nearest standard fire hydrant and how far it is from the nearest recognized responding fire station.
Each input needs to be accurate and up-to-date to give you an output you can rely on.
Gathering the latest data from reputable sources
The inputs to a PC aren't static. New homes are built and new hydrants installed. Communities expand or sometimes reduce their fire-defense capabilities. On occasion, addresses change. In fact, one county in Washington state has recently re-addressed hundreds of properties.
We keep up with all these changes. Here are a few of the ways we do that:
- Maintaining and updating extensive databases. We have more than 2.5 million address points in Washington state and more than 272,000 active fire hydrants. Every month, we add new address points and hydrants.
- Combining multiple advanced technical tools. We use cutting-edge mapping software to carefully check locations and driving distances, which are used in PC calculations.
- Gathering data from in-person visits. Our Public Protection team visits fire stations when doing their evaluations, and our commercial property analysts make note of fire hydrant locations during their inspections.
One of the most important ways we keep up with changes is feedback from you. When you contact us about a property you can't find in Protection, for example, it's most likely new construction and not yet in our database. We use the information you provide to search the county assessor's site and other sources so we can get you the data you need.
When researching a new address, we always check if there are others nearby. Sometimes, we find a few; sometimes, we find many. Whether we learn of one new address or thousands, we update our database with the information.
If you primarily work on insuring commercial properties, know that we use some of the data described above in determining advisory Loss Costs. We also recommend re-inspecting a building whenever a tenant changes to be sure you have the latest information on the factors affecting fire risk in that location. Subscribers have unlimited access to commercial property reports and Loss Costs, and there's no limit to how many inspections Subscribers can request.
A map of the fire protection districts in Washington state. We continuously update hydrant locations, addresses and other information for each one to ensure you get accurate data.
Developing and enhancing new data products
To help you better evaluate risk, we've recently launched new tools, one related to earthquake risk, the other related to wildfire risk. More are on the way, but we aren't exclusively focused on building. We're refining, too.
We've already updated the data on the Modified Mercalli Intensity scale used in the Earthquake Risks Tool, after the United States Geological Survey published revised data in December of 2019. We're also working on updates to the Wildfire Risks Tool to make it more comprehensive.
What do you think of these tools? What can we improve? We're here to deliver you the data you need to work effectively and efficiently, so please share your thoughts and suggestions with us.
We look forward to hearing from you and building better products for you.
Refreshing our home page, blog, industry toolkit and more
In addition to enhancing our existing products and building new ones, we're also refreshing our home page, blog, industry toolkit and other website pages you see before you login to access our data.
You rely on our content to keep you informed of industry trends and understand the often complex world of insurance. Soon, you'll get the same valuable information with a fresh, easier-to-navigate design.
You'll also find new content, including in-depth guides to assessing risk, property underwriting and Protection Classes. And, you’ll see pages you can share with customers, building owners and others who have questions about our work and how it affects them.
We’ll reveal the new site on Monday, May 18. During the weekend leading up to the launch (May 16 and May 17), you’ll still be able to access all the WSRB data you need, but if you visit the home page, blog, toolkit or other pages, you’ll see our coming-soon countdown.
Jim Renn is WSRB's Senior Product Manager. He manages the development, release and refinement of new data products designed to help you