As severe weather-related disasters and associated insurance claims continue to occur worldwide, we now have the added disruption of an ongoing pandemic to make the job of processing these claims harder.
So how can claims adjusters complete their work to the usual high standard amid travel restrictions and local lockdowns? Chris Kent, director business development at Verisk, looks at how technologies such as remote sensing and aerial imagery have been adopted by insurers to ensure business continuity in an unprecedented year and beyond.
Insurance claims adjusters must still complete their jobs despite ongoing lockdowns and ‘stay at home’ advice put in place around the world in response to the pandemic. Ongoing travel restrictions have particularly hampered critical operations, as adjusters from the Lloyd’s insurance market have been unable to travel abroad to inspect weather damage claims on property first-hand.
Restrictions prevent travel and progression of weather related claims
In March 2020, severe storms in Texas and Tennessee caused widespread damage to homes and other property. These storms arrived during the same period which saw COVID-related restrictions implemented in both states.
More recently, the UK cold snap and southern U.S. winter storms of 2021 have resulted in damage, disruption and insurance claims that must be managed efficiently as possible despite ongoing restrictions.
This inability to travel has meant claims adjusters are unable to set foot on the ground to complete inspections in the ‘traditional’ manner. But by adopting new remote technologies and partnerships, insurers are finding they can still complete these critically important tasks as if adjusters were there first-hand.
Remote technologies ensure uninterrupted service
To respond to this perfect storm of crises, the insurance industry has worked to establish alternatives to support customers through difficult conditions and deliver a continued high level of policyholder support. New digital services can enable the industry to create a reliable and impactive post-disaster service which, as it is run remotely, removes the need for adjusters to visit affected areas first-hand and risk breaking COVID-related restrictions.
By developing strategic partnerships between the Lloyd’s insurance market and leading geo-spatial imaging services, insurers are able to create highly detailed aerial maps of an area in the immediate aftermath of major weather-related disasters.
Within a 24-hour period of an incident occurring, an aircraft can be deployed to capture high resolution, granular, post-event and oblique images of an area. Insurance adjusters can then study ‘before and after’ images from an image library to understand damage done by an extreme weather event.
On top of aerial imagery, collaboration-focused digital systems now put all stakeholders involved in a claim in constant contact. These allow the policyholder making a claim to directly upload their own video imagery to a specialised, online claims handling tool, which helps expedite the time taken for a claim to progress from being made, to being settled.
Case in point: 2020 severe weather events
This blend of technology and adjuster expertise was first put to the test in March of 2020, in the immediate aftermath of the original COVID-19 restrictions being introduced.
Between 2 and 3 March, several tornadoes passed through the middle and western areas of Tennessee, one of which severely damaged the downtown region of Nashville.
A geospatial imaging system was able to capture images both before the tornado hit the area and then immediately after. This gave adjusters a wealth of information when it came to the processing of weather-related property damage claims.
Swift action saves time thanks to cutting-edge technology
Thanks to rapid advances in the digital solutions available to insurers, Lloyd’s syndicates and their appointed claims adjusters can now perform their mandated physical inspection processes entirely remotely, making use of AI and remote sensing technology ensuring outstanding insurance claims are completed swiftly and accurately.
Specialist weather services, incorporated into insurer databases, can help insurance syndicates identify each storm’s severity with a high degree of accuracy allowing insurers to predict the potential damage of a tornado much more effectively. This improved access to data allows for better risk mitigation and optimisation of response resources.
These processes can help insurers and their representatives act much faster in their initial response following a catastrophe, focusing efforts on the most heavily affected regions, deploying adjusters to manage properties both within and bordering a storm-impacted area.
Further developments continue to arrive
Looking beyond remote technology adoption, catastrophe response processes can be further enhanced with accurate assessments of replacement costs based on damage sustained, combined with precise property weather data and date of loss verification, all fed directly into an insurer’s database.
With access to this technology, Lloyd’s syndicates and their respective adjusters can remove the need to physically visit the site of the actual loss in a period of intense disruption, putting them in a strong position to ensure continued smooth claims progression in the event of any future pressure on operations and travel.
The author is Chris Kent, director business development at Verisk.
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