Greater transparency in risk mapping

For more than 35 years, the independent CRESTA initiative has dedicated itself to devising a universal standard for accumulation control of natural catastrophe risks. In 2013, the previous standard underwent a comprehensive reform, and many new countries and functions were added to the online platform,

The worldwide demand for a precise cartographic basis for estimating risk and damages from natural catastrophes continues to grow. CRESTA zones provide an universal standard for the exchange of aggregated, insurance-relevant information among insurers and reinsurers.

The acronym CRESTA stands for Catastrophe Risk Evaluating and Standardizing Target Accumulations. Founded in 1977, this independent initiative dedicates itself to providing a universal standard for accumulation control of natural hazards. Sponsored by Munich Re and Swiss Re, access is free to industry users.

The 2013 revisions have expanded the CRESTA coverage very significantly. Previously, zones were available for 86 countries, along with supplementary subzones. The expanded database now covers 137 countries.

The reformed 2013 CRESTA zones are also now defined on the basis of official boundaries rather than by hazard. Postcodes and administrative regions offer worldwide coverage at a detailed level. These are also commonly used and clearly defined regional levels for which a high-quality cartographic basis is available thanks to GfK, one of the world’s largest market research organisations and the official supplier of the worldwide CRESTA zones.

Based on GfK GeoMarketing’s worldwide postal and administrative boundaries, CRESTA zones fit seamlessly with GfK’s postal and administrative maps. This allows effortless transfer of data from various regional levels to the CRESTA zones.

High and low resolution

The new CRESTA zones are available in two resolutions: high (HighRes) and low resolution (LowRes). In the past, users had access to approximately 43,000 zones; following the reform, this has been expanded to around 250,000 high-resolution zones.

The ability to choose between two resolutions gives users flexibility depending on the task at hand. For example, the low-resolution zones – which often correspond to two digit postcodes or the first administrative level – are ideal for preliminary risk analyses, calculating insurance premiums and carrying out reporting activities.

The high-resolution zones offer a much greater level of detail, often corresponding to five digit postcode level. These zones are perfect for natural catastrophe modelling, planning in hazard-prone areas and geocoding granular market data.
By Dr. Jürgen Schimetschek, head of the CRESTA secretariat and risk manager in corporate underwriting/ geospatialsolutions at Munich Re.

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