GIRP - Ground Instability Risk Profiler Service

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Subsidence due to clay shrinkage is the largest ground instability issue affecting residential property in the UK (75% of all valid insurance claims) with rectification costs averaging £250m (295m Euro) p.a.  Research by the insurance sector (Swiss RE and Lloyds of London) indicates that the extent of subsidence both in the UK and Europe will worsen in line with climate change forecast.  The insurance sector equally recognizes the need for significantly improved profiling and predictive tools to identify and target risk mitigation management.

The aim of this study is to assess the technical feasibility and the commercial viability of an integrated solution to provide the insurance sector with the ability to better assess ground instability issues.  The current objectives are:

  • Explore existing resources from both ground and satellite sensing technology suppliers to provide a service.
  • Establish a supply chain capable of delivering this service.
  • Determine a need for a commercial service for a select user group.
  • Establish a roadmap for the development of a demonstrator prototype.

Subsidence due to clay shrinkage is the largest ground instability issue affecting residential property in the UK (75% of all valid insurance claims) with rectification costs averaging £250m (295m Euro) p.a.  Research by the insurance sector (Swiss RE and Lloyds of London) indicates that the extent of subsidence both in the UK and Europe will worsen in line with climate change forecast.  The insurance sector equally recognizes the need for significantly improved profiling and predictive tools to identify and target risk mitigation management.

Subsidence risk distribution in England and Wales - Note green = low, amber = medium, orange = high and red = very high.  

Users and their needs

The target users are all keys disciplines within the UK residential property insurance market, namely insurance companies, re-insurance companies, actuarial service providers, brokers, risk managers and subsidence management claims providers.

In addition, there are also the following areas of identified opportunity:

  • Transfer of knowledge into non insurance markets such as Housing Associations, Councils, facility managers, commercial arena lending and conveyancing
  • European and International markets.

The User Groups are looking for a cost effective manner in which to increase knowledge of the areas of subsidence risk in the UK.

Any initiatives that provide more certainty, reduce overall claim costs, reduce timelines and enable customer focused solutions to be developed will attract significant interest from the insurance community.

The User Groups are looking for a cost effective manner in which to increase knowledge of the areas of subsidence risk in the UK.

Any initiatives that provide more certainty, reduce overall claim costs, reduce timelines and enable customer focused solutions to be developed will attract significant interest from the insurance community.

Service/ system concept

There will be a number of modular service options that GIRP will deliver to the UK residential and SME property insurance market - based upon operational areas of the insurance industry:

  • Risk profiling and mitigation management
  • Underwriting and premium setting
  • Claims management

These are all based and built from a new and unique Core Subsidence Hazard Score.   The GIRP core subsidence hazard score is derived via the weighted integration of relevant input datasets.   

Space Added Value

The extent of monitoring ground movement and the triggers across a significant geographical area and the need to convert a ‘static’ profiling tool into a predictive service lends itself significantly to the application of satellite technologies.

InSAR data can track wider area changes in ground movement.  Integration of these data sources with GNSS alongside the augmentation of core data profiling will significantly improve the quality and reliability of the GIRP service.

Product Benefits

The vision for this work is to provide a UK based service for assessing the risk of subsidence, landslip and heave ground movement and the associated risks of damage to buildings which are covered under a Buildings Insurance policy. It will provide the insurance sector with the capability to better understand the risks associated with ground instability issues.

The Ground Instability Risk Profiling (GIRP) service will enable an accurate and predictive risk to be profiled in a wide range of flexible formats (e.g. defined area, postcode and or property specific level). Although initially based on a UK service, the proposed model also has opportunities to be used internationally.

The service will use a combination of best available soil and property related data sets, ‘property specific’ information and historical insurance claims data supplemented by satellite data.  The service will make use of location and mapping capabilities of space assets and ground in-depth point sensor networks.  An adaptive communications protocol that integrates ground and satellite infrastructure will also be used to enable a seamless commercial service to be realized.

Product Features

The information required  to create integrated solutions must be assembled from a number of data streams associated with ground motion, trees and vegetation, geological information, property information, weather and soil moisture (historical and forecast). Therefore, the importance of having all the data streams available in a common platform is essential for providing effective service.

The generic service diagram illustrates the features of a possible service operation from end to end.

The main aim is to specify a system that can deliver added value information products for end users by using a common measurement framework of ground and satellite systems. The focus will be defining the services to be included to transform data into knowledge, and secondly to concentrate on system architecture capable of providing data for that type of service.

The end product will provide a risk profiling service that is innovative, accurate and predictive in regard to postcode and property specific level services.

Key Issues

The main technical challenges are to integrate traditional ground and property information and the required satellite and remote sensing data in a cost effective manner.  This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Availability and saliency of ground and property information.
  • The definition and linkage of subsidence trigger data within algorithms and manageable data-sets for service delivery
  • Logistical deployment of ground remote sensing data.
  • Data output, content, frequency and adherence to reliability and calibration.
  • The ability to deliver a technical and economically viable service offering

Current Status

The feasibility study has been completed with the final review on 16th June 2015.

The main outcomes of the GIRP feasibility study are:

  • Construction is technical feasibility - selection of the main data sources, structure of the key risk algorithms, processing and validation methodology
  • Significant application and value of technically feasible InSAR and GNSS delivery requirements
  • Definition of the service value chain for implementing the GIRP services across the UK
  • Support of users for implementing the GIRP services from across the key areas of the property insurance industry

An IAP Demonstration Project is under discussion and is seeking to start as soon as possible (Late 2015/early 2016).

Project Managers

Contractor Project Manager

Mr. Andy Lucas
Property Assure Ltd
Boundary Court
Castle Donington
DE74 2UD
United Kingdom

ESA Project Manager

Rob Postema
ESTEC
Keplerlaan 1, P.O. Box 299
2200 AG Noordwijk
Netherlands

Status Date

Updated: 25 August 2015 - Created: 01 July 2014