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Helping underserved communities

Climate Check Podcast

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    About this episode

    Jason Dunn, senior vice president for strategic products at Munich Re, along with Team Rubicon's Brandon Callahan and Ana Luna, discuss how the nonprofit disaster response organization deploys military veterans to communities affected by natural catastrophes and other crises (Part 1), followed by a discussion about ways corporations, government agencies, and nonprofits can work together to boost resilience in underserved communities (Part 2).

    About the guest

    Jason has spent over 15 years in product roles with primary insurers, reinsurers, and insurance advisory organizations. In his current role as SVP Digital Product Manager Sr., he works with Munich Re US clients to find innovative solutions using digital approaches in combination with Munich Re’s advanced data insights and industry-leading risk knowledge. Jason received a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics from the University of Maryland and holds the CPCU and ARe designations.

    Jason Dunn
    Jason Dunn
    Strategic Product Development Manager
    Munich Re US

    Part 1

    Mark Maroon:

    Hi, welcome to Climate Check. This is Mark Maroon, Vice President at American Modern, a Munich Re Company. And today I'm joined by Jason Dunn, Senior Vice President for Strategic Products at Munich Re, Brandon Callahan, and Ana Luna, both from Team Rubicon, a nonprofit disaster response organization that deploys military veterans to communities affected by natural catastrophes and other crises. Thank you all for joining me today.

    Ana Luna:

    Thanks for having us.

    Jason Dunn:

    Pleasure to be here.

    Mark Maroon:

    So Brandon, I'd like to start with you. Can you just give us a little bit of an overview of Team Rubicon, who they are and what their primary mission is?

    Brandon Callahan:

    Yeah, absolutely. So, Team Rubicon is a veteran-led nonprofit who does disaster response both domestically and internationally. Team Rubicon was founded in 2010 when a group of military veterans saw the devastation in Haiti following the earthquake, and they just couldn't sit and watch it. So, eight people eventually made their way into Haiti and started providing aid, and here we are 11 years later, still at it. We've responded to most of the major storms of the last decade in the United States. We've launched rebuild capability in the United States where we work on long-term recovery, mostly right now throughout the Gulf Coast. We've done everything all the way to COVID response. We've done vaccine responses, we've helped run medical clinics, we do everything. It's a group of uniquely skilled individuals trying to bring the skills and abilities they learned through military service and our first responders and bring that to the disaster response space.

    Mark Maroon:

    Sounds good, thank you for the overview. Ana, I guess I'd come to you next. In terms of climate change, it seems like the severity and frequency of hurricanes and tropical cyclones hitting communities like those in Louisiana, in particular, over the last couple of years, but along the southeastern coast of the US has been hit pretty hard. What are some of the systemic issues that you see facing these communities?

    Ana Luna:

    Well, I think you hit it on the head just with the repetition and consistency of these disasters. More and more we're seeing across the board the same communities are being hit time and time again, and that's not going to stop with climate change. Part of what we're seeing that's changing, or that has already changed depending on the seat you're in, is that a lot of the communities that we responded to last year, we're still there providing recovery work, rebuild services, and then the next disaster comes. So we're at a point now where we can almost project the pathways that storms will take just because of the changes that are happening and the trends that are happening. But I think climate change definitely plays a role in the sense that the severity is increasing, the frequency is increasing. Where it was maybe some communities would have a couple of years of relief and then the next storm would come, now we're seeing less of a break in between.

    The other component, I think, is that environmentally, a lot of the homes that are sitting in the most at risk and hazardous areas tend to be the more low income homes, and that's just how planning and urbanization really works. People who have higher incomes won't necessarily be living in those areas. So it's vulnerability on top of vulnerability, unfortunately.

    Mark Maroon:

    I think that's an important point. It does seem like as the years go on in terms of claims development and everything that we're seeing, at least on the primary insurance side, we're seeing a lot of the same themes and trends that you just described. So Jason, at this point I want to loop you in. Munich Re made a $100K contribution to support Team Rubicon's effort this year. Can you talk a little bit about how Team Rubicon's mission aligns with Munich Re's commitment to reach these underserved and underinsured communities affected by the protection gap?

    Jason Dunn:

    Sure, thanks Mark. So Munich Re is devoted to closing the protection gap within the US and globally. We recognize for all the reasons that were mentioned earlier, that climate change is driving up the overall cost of insurance by the increased frequency and severity of these major events. We also recognize that while there is a good supply of insurance products in the US, those products don't make it into every single community. They just can't simply afford insurance in some communities. So Munich Re has taken a non-traditional approach here. We've looked for various partners within the non-governmental organization space that can help us reach out into these underserved communities and close to protection gap. We're very aligned with Team Rubicon on the mission that they want to do, which is rapid response and recovery after a natural catastrophe. And as they've branched into the long-term recovery, that is the rebuild missions that Brandon has talked about, we wanted to provide a more tangible benefit there, and that is the large contribution that we've made in a multi-year commitment to help rebuild the homes in these underserved communities.

    Mark Maroon:

    I know one of the things that we're looking at, Brandon, is including the mandate to rebuild homes using the fortified standard. So first, can you maybe talk about what that fortified standard is, and then maybe describe some of the training, and the technologies, and the standards that your organization provides?

    Brandon Callahan:

    Yeah, I'd love to. There are communities all across America that other VOAD Partners in the space have to respond to time and time and time again. We work on the same flooded communities year after year because they need help. So how do you break that cycle? How do you stop that? And the answer, the key to that, is resilience. And through resilience, both at the individual and the community level, we can go from where we're at now, which is just acknowledging that it's more dangerous to live here, to actually doing something about it. We can give people the capability to live their lives without wondering if the next time it rains, they're going to lose everything they own.

    So, where we started with that was our Fortified program through IBHS, the Institute for Business & Home Safety. This is a program put together where they, through scientific method, tried to figure out what's the most common reason that houses fail. Why do houses take storm damage? So they've gone through, the Fortified program has three levels. It starts with a fortified roof, which they identified a compromised roof as being the number one reason that homes fail during a disaster. And it has to do with simple things like sealed roof decks. So if the shingles fail, we have a backstop to help keep water out of a home. And there's a whole series that goes through just on the roof, that has to do with the underlayments, the nail pattern that you use, the way you seal the decks, the way you lay the shingles, all of it, so that that roof is far more resilient.

    Next, it goes to a Silver standard, which has to do with the openings itself on the house: doors, windows, garage doors. And then there's a Gold standard. A Gold standard not only addresses all of the things previously, but also introduces things like a continuous load path in a house. And they've come up with this very intricate, very simple-to-execute program that you can use to fortify houses against all kinds of disasters. And that's one of the tools in Team Rubicon's toolkit that we use to try to introduce individual resilience for homes in these communities. Super high-impact, super low cost.

    So Team Rubicons really started trying to take on all resilience, all hazards all the time. There's really simple ways you can do that. So if you talk, let's go back for a second to the Silver level of fortified, where we've introduced impact-resistant windows, impact-resistant doors, so the openings to the house are secured. We know that we've framed inside of the walls correctly because we've introduced Fortified Gold and we have a strong house. But what else? What's some other simple things we could do? Well, we could take and replace the siding on a house, and replace it with a cement fiber. Now it can't be set on fire by flying senders, which, according to Cal Fire, is how over 90% of houses get destroyed during a wildfire, is cinders find their way onto flammable substances and they destroy it. There's ASTM ratings for shingles. We can use the correct class of shingles to prevent the same thing. Now, just with those two things, we have a house that's far more resilient to projectiles, to wind loads, to flying cinders, and we've just helped with three different hazards, right there.

    Mark Maroon:

    Great points, Brandon. And I think, again, this concept of building codes, just from a community perspective, getting more states to invest in building codes that are at that Fortified standard that we know from IBHS that you're using in your rebuilds today, that help these homeowners build back to something better than they had before, and be more resilient and resistant to the next event.

    Thanks. There have been a lot of good points brought up in the last few minutes. I'd like us to continue this conversation in the second part of this podcast with Jason Dunn, Brandon Callahan, and Ana Luna. Please join us for part two, folks, and head over to for more information.

    Part 2

    Mark Maroon:

    Hey, everyone. This is Mark Maroon, Vice President at American Modern, a Munich Re Company, continuing my conversation with Jason Dunn, Senior Vice President for Strategic Products at Munich Re, along with Brandon Callahan and Ana Luna from Team Rubicon. We are discussing the topic of assisting underserved communities in natural disasters.

    So Ana, in the first part of our conversation, we were talking about some big systemic issues related to helping underserved communities deal with the impact of climate change, things that not just the insurance industry, your governments, or nonprofits like Team Rubicon can solve on their own. So how can all of us work together more efficiently to get people in a better place?

    Ana Luna:

    I think one of the biggest things is really shining a light on the impact and the power that providing these recovery services like Rebuild can really provide for homeowners. But I think the other component is really, I think through partnerships like this, but also by looking at how else we can collaborate with local partners in order to not duplicate effort, but in order to complement what we're all doing.

    There are so many people in the recovery space that are smart, that have amazing solutions, but I think when we operate in silos, we're not able to enhance each other's work. And so, one of the things that Team Rubicon does is that we're always looking to fill the gap. We're not looking to replicate what everybody else is doing. We're not looking to work in a saturated space.

    And that's one of the reasons why we got into recovery work in the first place, was that we responded to Hurricane Harvey and we saw that after all of the news trucks left, these homes still needed help. And there were so many people who had systemic structural issues that needed to be addressed, and government, FEMA, from all branches of government weren't really able to assist and there really weren't any funds to assist. And so, we decided to fill that gap. And I think through partnerships with others like SBP and with the Red Cross, we've been able to really enhance that level of work. Because like I said, I think the solutions are out there, the advocacy groups are out there. It's just a matter of working together instead of thinking about each other as competitors in order to elevate the work and elevate the message.

    Jason Dunn:

    Yeah. And I think you made a really good point there around emergency management. Maybe the response is the high-attention area and the recovery is the low-attention area. And within the insurance industry, and Munich Re in particular, we're hyper-focused on that long-term aspect. We want policy holders, the homeowners to be as resilient as possible to the next event. We want them to recover in the long-term and to be just a long-term customer of the insurance space. So we can't just ignore them after the events, after the recovery and everyone's moved out. We have to stick with them and help them and the community recover.

    Ana Luna:

    Right. I feel like our insurance partners, or some of them, frankly, the more aware in this space, I think you guys are really some of the most dedicated and committed partners in that sense. I think because you guys see it and you guys don't just see the level of attention on response and how that dwindles into the recovery, but also understand that as a nonprofit, leaning on us as a specialty area and trusting us is huge. And you guys have really been huge partners in helping us understand that space even more, sharing geospatial data, helping us understand what's the difference between underinsured versus not insured at all, and really helping us see who are really the most vulnerable people within those spaces, regardless of how many resources are being dedicated or regardless of how the new cycle has picked it up.

    And I think that through partnerships like that, we can really start to speak the same language, frankly, and start to elevate and share those messages across the board. Because I think the more we can all be speaking the same language and the more we can all be on the same platform, the easier it is later down the road for advocacy groups or for legislators or for governments to understand where we're coming from versus just this ragtag group of people from Team Rubicon saying, "Hey, this is something that's important. Listen to us."

    Jason Dunn:

    Yeah. I think for insurance, and you've probably experienced this yourself, Brandon, if you've been into missions, that insurance adjusters are often some of the first people that are rushing into these areas as well. So this is a very personal experience for so many in the insurance industry. Myself, I was in Paradise, California after the campfire. Just seeing the images of whole communities wiped off the face of this planet, it just sticks with you. And you want to do everything you can to help those people recover, help those communities come back, which is again why we're only so happy to help your teams, your Rebuild teams go in and help those communities.

    Mark Maroon:

    So we're starting to run out of time, but I just want to make sure that we gave you a chance, Brandon, to maybe tell people if they want to get involved, if they're inspired by your mission and they want to find ways to help, what's the best way to reach out? What's the best way for them to get in contact with Team Rubicon?

    Brandon Callahan:

    Yeah. There's a few different ways that people who want to get involved can get involved with Team Rubicon. First and foremost, I would say that what every community really needs is the help to come from within. So sign up,, and sign up to volunteer so that when your own community is impacted by these disasters, you're there to raise your hand, step up, and help them. And whether that's response, whether that's Rebuild involved, whatever that is, there's remote opportunities, there's in the field opportunities, get out there, get a part of it, and let's help our own communities.

    But I'm going to take a saying from Art, our CEO, that there's a million things more important than money, but they all cost money, right? Donations are what power this machine here. Through that same website,, you can donate right to us right there and help fuel this mission.

    Mark Maroon:

    Thank you very much. Ana, Brandon, Jason, again, thank you for taking the time to join us today and to talk about this important partnership with Munich Re and all of the great work that you guys are doing within the communities. And thanks, everybody. If you liked this episode, please subscribe to our podcast. And for more information, go to, and we'll see you all next time.

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