Canadian Underwriter

How a smart phone can drive efficiency in the claims process

October 19, 2020   by Greg Meckbach

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Using a smart phone to take pictures of property damage as soon as it happens could speed up the claims process and reduce fraud risk, the head of a Canadian claims technology vendor suggests.

“The best way to drive efficiency in the claims industry is by capturing the facts as soon as humanly possible after a loss,” said Paul Donald, CEO of Kitchener, Ont.-based claims technology vendor Encircle Inc.

Say your client’s home is damaged and they use a conventional digital camera instead of a smart phone to take pictures. There could be a dispute over when and where the picture was taken, Donald said in an interview.

But with photos from a smart phone, you have data on the time it was taken and what tower the cell phone was connecting to at the time.

“You would be hard-pressed to do any better than photos taken from a smart phone owned by a policyholders or adjuster to track all of that,” said Donald.

Donald was asked what processes tend to slow down the claims cycle and how the property and casualty insurance industry take advantage of technology to speed up the claims process.

“The sooner I can collect all of the relevant data in the process, the less costly, and the faster I can settle. The more time that goes by, the more [likely that] data get distorted or lost. I need to be able to act on it right away, whether I am taking a picture of it, uploading the documents, or however it happens. I need to get it done and I need to get it from all relevant parties and I need to put in in the same system.”

The parties involved in the process would include the policyholder, the carrier, and possibly the restoration contractor and independent adjuster.

In the claims process, most fraud is “opportunistic” and not pre-meditated, said Donald. To guard against creating an opportunity for fraud, if an insured takes a photo from their smart phone, and that photo is linked to the claims software, the company now has visual details that stand up in a court of law. So now there is less opportunity to inflate or exaggerate the damage, he suggested.

Encircle announced Oct. 5 it is now a solution partner of Guidewire Software Inc. Encircle’s technology captures photos, videos, notes and sketches and syncs them into Guidewire ClaimCenter.

With its technology, Encircle aims to give all parties a view of the loss that is detailed enough that they can do all their part with 95% to 100% confidence, said Donald.

“Often what causes delays is everyone has their own assumptions of what the facts are and how it relates to settlement of the claim,” said Donald. “That’s why this industry is largely pen-and-paper still.”

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1 Comment » for How a smart phone can drive efficiency in the claims process
  1. Marc Dubois says:

    Unfortunately the picture doesn’t tell how the damages were caused nor the sequence of said damages

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