Max Mayfield
Insurers learn to pinpoint risks -- and avoid them

NEWARK, CALIF. — Hemant Shah is in the business of creating catastrophes. The computers at Shah's Silicon Valley company, Risk Management Solutions Inc., contain mathematical models of every U.S. disaster from the 1812 earthquake that toppled chimneys in St. Louis to the 9/11 assault that brought down the twin towers in New York, as well as 100,000 synthesized "extreme events." RMS runs its disasters through your community — and sometimes right through your home — to see how you'd fare in a hurricane, hailstorm, earthquake, epidemic or terrorist attack. The firm sells its knowledge to insurance companies to help them decide whom to cover and how much...