JBA Pioneers

part one of our 10th anniversary interview series

In the last decade JBA has certainly played a key role in the worldwide quest to make flood insurance accessible and affordable, writes Simon Waller, Executive Chair, JBA Risk Management.

Back in 2007 the UK was hit by devastating river and surface water flooding (pictured below - 2007 floods in Oxford), and insurers took a massive hit with billions of pounds of losses.

The government launched the Pitt Report in the wake of the flooding, which brought about a stand-off between the insurance market and the government as the insurance market realised that offering flood insurance, almost free as an add-on to standard buildings cover, was just not sustainable going forwards. 

At JBA we already knew a lot about flood, having built maps for a major insurer and the Environment Agency (which are still available today, albeit much improved and many times updated), and we were able to step into the insurance market’s flood knowledge void.

We officially established our flood focused operation as JBA Risk Management in 2011 and rapidly grew our mapping products across the UK insurance market and then on to the rest of the world.

We really were pioneers, not only in our thinking but in our capabilities and investment in technology. Our investment in GPU technology back then was a game changer.

We adapted gaming technology and as a result were able to do previously unheard-of computationally complex things, calculating the movement of water between billions of different cells every thousandth of a second. In fact, we were building our own GPU computers and, I have to admit, we even managed to blow the fuse on our local electricity substation as we were using so much power.

We have continued to invest in innovation over the proceeding years, not only expanding into global mapping but also into global cat modelling.

There are certain inflection points where technologies are transformative – enabling capabilities previously thought impossible. GPU technology drove our first revolution, and Artificial Intelligence is driving the next. And again, our ongoing investment in AI means we are at the forefront of our industry as we look to address the challenge of climate change facing not only insurers, but mortgage lenders, banks and investment funds who need to understand their exposure from future flood risk.

Of course, technology is nothing without a great team to make things happen and I have been privileged to work with amazing colleagues, many of whom have been with us from day one. It is their commitment and passion that has made JBA Risk Management the success it is today and this continues to be the case.

Our future technical ambitions may not quite be possible with today’s technology; however, this has never deterred us in the past. Watch this space…

This is part one of a series of interviews with the JBA team over the coming weeks.

For more information on JBA's work, get in touch with the team using the form below.

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