The 2019–20 Australian bushfire season, colloquially known as the Black Summer, had by March, burnt an estimated 18.6 million hectares, and approximately one billion animals. Over the first five months of 2020 the average temperature in Siberia was nearly 10 °C above normal leading to a rapid meltdown of the permafrost and an increase in wildfires.
In January Cyclone Gloria caused destructive flooding by extreme rainfall and a major storm surge across the eastern Spain. It was followed by an incredible warm period whilst on the 1st day of February, eastern Spain hit +27 °C! Hailstones as large as 10cm wide fell at a speed of 80-100km/h in Alberta Canada early this June demolished every crop in its path and caused almost $1.2 billion in insured damage. The violent hailstorm that hit the Fez-Meknes region in Morocco also this June, affected up to 9,100 hectares agricultural land. China and Japan were also hit by record breaking rainfalls causing floods and landslides leaving damaged crops for harvest season.
These are just some of the recent extreme weather events that show how climate change is multiplying uncertainty for farmers year after year.
The objective of BEACON, supported by a research consortium of partners from 4 countries, is to develop a commercial service package that will enable insurance companies to exploit the untapped market potential of Agricultural Insurance, taking advantage of innovations in Earth Observation, weather intelligence and ICT / blockchain technology.
BEACON will enable insurance companies to alleviate the effect of weather uncertainty when estimating risk for Agricultural Insurance products, reduce the number of on-site visits for claim verification, reduce operational and administrative costs for monitoring of insured indexes and contract handling, and design more accurate and personalized contracts.
BEACON is a blockchain-fueled toolbox that couples leading Earth Observation technology with weather intelligence to deliver consumable, actionable insights for the agri-insurance industry.
The levels of risk involved in Agricultural Insurance provision makes it necessary for an insurance company to charge high premiums and to build up substantial capital reserves.
BEACON Earth Observation functions empower Agricultural Insurance underwriting procedures and premium calculations, by providing access to, and analyzing Earth Observation, climate and localized meteorological data.
Using satellite-based information, coupled with weather intelligence and high-resolution weather forecast it will enable a more accurate damage assessment and claims adjustment along with a potential fraud detection.
Farmers compliance to specific conditions stipulated in the insurance contract, needs to be monitored by Insurance companies. This is mainly performed with on-site/field audits multiple times within the contract duration, entailing high administrative costs for insurance companies.
BEACON leveraging the use of Earth Observation data, offers the opportunity to Agricultural Insurance companies to remotely check, in near real time and verify customer compliance to the contractual obligations (pay premium in time, report changes in planned acreage, compliance with suggested mitigation measures etc.) supporting them to reduce the administrative cost of on-site/filed visits.
BEACON state of the art services are distinguished into 5 categories.
- Crop Monitoring
The BEACON Crop monitoring, using crop growth models, along with Earth Observation and weather data provides crop profiling and monitoring data together with yield estimations.
- Damage Assessment Calculator
The BEACON Damage Assessment Calculator supports Agricultural Insurance companies in better more accurately assess and calculate damages for proceeding with indemnity pay-outs of claims. It allows the estimation of crop losses (in quantitative and potentially monetary values) based on in season yield estimates using Earth Observation and climate data along with crop growth modeling.
- Weather Risk Probability
The BEACON Weather Risk Probability provides probabilities maps of extreme weather events to occur in the upcoming season and to estimate their impact on the potential crop yield.
- Damage Prognosis – Early Warning
The BEACON Damage Prognosis and Early Warning service provides forecasted weather events alerts to Agricultural Insurance providers enabling them to push notifications and predefined mitigation measures to their customers -farmers.
- Anti-fraud Inspector
The BEACON Parcel Ani-Fraud Inspector allows Agricultural Insurances to automatically check the legitimacy of a claim submitted (if actually an event and damage occurred in an insured parcel) and to remotely (using Earth Observation imagery) follow and verify adherence to certain contractual articles established during underwriting.