Carriers' tech advances reduce manpower needs in Harvey response

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Hurricane Harvey made landfall as a Category 4 storm a week-and-a-half ago, affecting millions in the Houston area, the fourth largest city in the U.S. The losses could run into the tens of billions. This scale of loss also creates huge challenges for the insurance industry.

But the world has changed pretty dramatically from the days when a carrier had to mobilize all employees to answer phones, physically go inspect every claim, and handwrite drafts. Technology today can help insurance carriers provide a faster response, a more personalized response, and to do it with fewer people.

Carriers have invested in assuring a common user experience across multiple channels (web, phone, and mobile) with direct integration of intake solutions to the claims admin system. Today, carriers can take the first notice of loss via chatbots, video, live chat or online tools data entry. They can have the insured do their own video submission of the claim so an adjuster can see the damage without having to go onsite.

Mobile apps offer the ability to capture information about the claim, FNOL submission, and location of service providers near the event location. Often these apps include photo capture and upload, sometimes with video or augmented reality (e.g., overlay of an automobile over the photo to line up the door handle).

With the ready availability of live data, carriers can map that data over their own policyholder base to identify those insureds that are likely to have been in the path of the storm. They can then send out messages identifying the claims adjuster and providing a claim number before the claim has even been presented.

Fraud is common after a catastrophe, and carriers can use weather data to validate claims. They can verify that the claim was actually located in an area where the weather hit, and to validate that the severity of the damage is consistent with the circumstances of the storm. Carriers can prioritize claims based on live weather maps and don’t have to wait until they’ve seen the loss in order to make an initial payment.

Once the rain stopped, adjusters could start using drones to initially assess the extent of damage and then can instantly push funds into an insured’s checking account with no delays.

Ongoing communication via social media, sms and video can help a policyholder feel that the carrier cares about them and is there to provide support. As the days go on and the rebuilding begins, carriers can use collaboration tools between contractors, adjusters and homeowners to facilitate the rebuilding process.

With data warehouses and modern reporting tools, carriers are better equipped to understand the impact of the catastrophe and to accurately report to the reinsurers in order to manage their capital more efficiently.

Catastrophes are always the test of a carrier’s ability to deliver on the promise of care and compassion. Technology is increasingly differentiating that customer experience. While human beings are a key part of the claims experience, modern technologies allow a carrier to deliver a personalized, compassionate experience in a scalable manner.

If you’re looking for more ideas on how to deliver speed to service, here’s a report I wrote that gives some great examples of what others are doing.

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