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    Willis Research Network Convenes First Insurance Session at Largest Scientific Meeting in Europe

    Natural Hazard Risk Assessment Session Draws
    55 Papers from Insurers and Academics, Including Presentation on Seismic Risk in Italy

    LONDON, UK, April 23, 2009 – The Willis Research Network (WRN), supported by Munich Re Group, Risk Management Solutions and Swiss Re, has convened one of the largest sessions at the prestigious General Assembly of European Geosciences Union (EGU) in Vienna. This marks a major step in the further integration of the science and insurance communities.

    Titled “Public policy and commercial applications of natural catastrophe risk assessment,” the session brought together leading scientists to discuss topics including the impact of natural hazards on effective decision-making in public policy; the relevance of commercial applications in assessing natural hazards, and future trends in natural catastrophe risk assessment.

    The day-long session also encompassed topics such as extreme natural hazards and risk communication, the application of catastrophe models for emergency and land-use planning, parametric catastrophe models, applications of remote sensing, and national catastrophe pools.

    Rowan Douglas, Chairman of the WRN, said, “Changes in frequency, severity and location of natural hazards escalate the challenges to all involved parties. Public and commercial bodies urgently require a deeper and more comprehensive understanding of risk, mitigation and disaster reduction. This meeting provided a critical link between the theory and practice of risk modelling.”

    With 55 accepted abstracts, the session sponsored by the WRN was amongst the largest sessions in Natural Hazard division, itself the biggest division in EGU. Highlights included a solicited presentation on Prevention and Mitigation of Seismic Risk in Italy from the National Department of Civil Protection Italy, which is particularly significant given the recent disaster in Italy.

    Co-convener David Bresch, Head of Sustainability & Emerging Risk Management at Swiss Re, said, “The rising impact of natural catastrophes is driving up the cost of disaster relief and reconstruction. The re/insurance community has the capacity to develop new forms of private-public partnerships that absorb the financial impact of large catastrophes, thus making societies more resilient.”

    Co-convener Robert Muir-Wood, Chief Research Officer at Risk Management Solutions (RMS), added, “Much high-quality research on natural hazards is now undertaken on behalf of the insurance industry by catastrophe modeling companies such as RMS, major reinsurers like Munich Re and Swiss Re, or directly sponsored -- as by the Willis Research Network. We welcome all opportunities to build bridges with scientists researching natural hazards, to find new applications for their research or maybe entice them into working in the industry.”

    And Dr Anselm Smolka, Head of Geological and Geophysical Risks at Munich Re and co-convener, added, “A high-standard and transparent risk assessment is the precondition for raising risk awareness and creating a ’prevention culture’.”

    More information can be found on the EGU website at http://meetingorganizer.copernicus.org/EGU2009/oral_programme/771

    The Willis Research Network (WRN) is the world's largest partnership between academia and the insurance industry. Willis has teamed up with 20 leading institutions across a full range of disciplines from atmospheric science and climate statistics, to geography, hydrology and seismology, to the impacts on the environment via engineering, exposure analysis and Geographic Information Systems. Additional information can be found at www.willisresearchnetwork.com

    The WRN is funded by Willis Group Holdings Limited (NYSE: WSH), a leading global insurance broker, developing and delivering professional insurance, reinsurance, risk management, financial and human resource consulting and actuarial services to corporations, public entities and institutions around the world. Willis has more than 400 offices in nearly 120 countries, with a global team of approximately 20,000 Associates serving clients in some 190 countries. Additional information on Willis may be found at www.willis.com.

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