August 5, 2016 by Rob Daleman, VP, Corporate Marketing, DMTI Spatial
The recent out-of-control wildfire in Alberta, last year’s ice storm in Ontario and the large number of wildfires in British Columbia are examples of catastrophic events that test the mettle of claims managers and adjusters in the field. These kinds of disasters place the focus squarely on a P&C insurance company’s ability to mobilize and assign adjusters with agility and efficiency for claims handling. In these extreme situations, knowing the best way to allocate field personnel for claims management is critical for obtaining accurate estimates of losses as well as ensuring success in the “moment of truth” when it comes to customer experience.
Attempting to find the right balance between customer service and effective management of loss adjustment expenses has led many insurers to invest in key elements of claims transformation, including revamping or replacing legacy systems, utilizing data analytics, automating claims triage and streamlining supplier relationships.
In addition to these efforts, location intelligence is now emerging as a critical claims management tool that will play a central role in meeting the dual goals of enhanced claims efficiency and providing superior customer experience.
Location intelligence utilizes structured and unstructured mapping data to provide a highly visualized and intuitive insight into insured properties and surrounding features. Insurers are increasingly seeing the value of employing this technology as an effective means of managing complex losses such as catastrophic events, but also as a new source of insight into more routine, day-to-day claims.
It enables much more rapid estimation of losses in any given event. Geospatial tools allow for quicker response times, more effective deployment of field adjusters
and improved customer contact and outreach. The technology also enhances the ability to analyze and model historical claims events, and link these to predictive scenarios for underwriting and actuarial usage.
How can adjusters benefit from location intelligence?
There are three important aspects of the claims management process that can be enhanced by leveraging geospatial data: Loss event analysis, mobility and measurement, and proactive customer contact. Here is a detailed look at each of these benefits.
Loss event analysis
Catastrophic loss events are a major challenge facing property and casualty insurers. According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, in 2014 catastrophic losses plus loss adjustments expenses accounted for approximately $925 million, the sixth year in a row that insured losses were close to or more than $1 billion.
These claims follow the record-breaking catastrophic losses of 2013, when insurers paid out more than $3.4 billion, including $1.8 billion in the costliest insured disaster in Canadian history-the floods in Alberta. Whether the disaster at hand is a flood, wildfire, earthquake, hail or windstorm, it is clear that catastrophic loss management is a top priority for all P&C insurance carriers.
Location intelligence systems can deliver a significant business advantage when it comes to assessment of likely claims in catastrophic situations, allowing an insurance company to visualize and analyze a catastrophic scenario in new ways. Accessing data from multiple sources in a single, integrated view with the added dimension of location enhances an adjuster’s ability to identify and visualize affected areas and determine viable options, using intuitive maps that pinpoint the relative locations of loss occurrences.
A carrier can overlay additional relevant data with geospatial data, such as weather forecasts and reports, on a map-based dashboard along with the locations of its insured properties, to dynamically determine the probable maximum loss and assess how to mobilize resources to handle claims for an actual or predicted event.
Using these tools, insurers can plot the area of impact and the system is able to sum up all current exposure in that area. This assessment of the aggregate risk can also include items not typically considered, such as the location of bridges and other key infrastructure that may potentially impact claims adjustment.
Mobility and measurement
A key to effective claims management is the proper mobilization and assignment of adjusters for claims handling following a major event. Especially during a disaster, knowing the most efficient way to allocate field personnel for claims management is critical for effective response and accurate loss assessments.
Geospatial data can play an instrumental role in claims handling practices, helping insurance companies become more proactive in claims management. For example, a claims manager could use a geospatially enhanced map to determine where the largest percentage of its claims are coming from after an event and then send adjusters and other essential personnel to those areas first, improving the strategic and efficient deployment of catastrophic response teams.
Used in conjunction with wireless applications, location intelligence technology can optimize routing and workloads for claims adjusters in a number of ways. For example, call centres can queue First Notice of Loss (FNOLs) within their system, assigning them to the appropriate claims adjuster based on their proximity to the claims locations. If new, more urgent FNOLs arise, the schedule can be reprioritized
with new routes and assignments provided to adjusters in real-time while they are in the field.
Moreover, the technology can interface with other location-driven tools, such as drone technology or microsatellites, to pinpoint properties and gain early visibility into estimates of damages.
Proactive customer contact
The best way for insurers to improve the customer experience is to move from a reactive role of merely assessing damages and paying out claims to a more proactive role of helping their customers understand natural perils and how they can prevent damages from occurring in the first place. Geospatial data can help accomplish this transformation.
For example, carriers armed with this data could contact customers who are in the path of an impending flood or hurricane to advise them of steps they can take to protect their property. This proactive approach not only helps the customer limit damage, but also helps the insurer minimize loss and payouts.
With the ubiquity of social media, insurance organizations also have the ability to tap into Twitter, Facebook and posts on other social media platforms to plan and execute their response to events. As the relationship between maps and social media matures, insurers are finding that the information and insight gained serve as vehicles to validate assumptions about safety warnings as well as assess the effectiveness of preemptive messages and actual handling of loss events.
This innovative technology also enhances an insurer’s ability to quickly test different worst-case scenarios to plan, prepare and price for possible outcomes. Whether on a desktop, intranet or Internet, users at many levels-from claim examiners to adjusters and managers-can perform on-the-fly analysis to assist in making effective decisions.
In these ways and more, location intelligence technology can help insurers respond to their customer claims more quickly and efficiently, especially in catastrophic scenarios.
Putting it all together
Processing a claim is one of the most important transactional events between an insurer and the customer. How well an insurer engages in the claim settlement process is key to loyalty, retention and brand image.
While geospatial data has been employed for years in underwriting and catastrophe modeling, its potential has not been fully realized in the context of claims adjustment.
As a result, there is an untapped advantage to be gained by using this valuable data for the claims management function of insurance companies.
By combining location intelligence with other analytic technologies and data sources, including rich real-time data sources such as weather modeling and social media, insurers gain a powerful resource to determine how to treat an individual claim at every stage of the claims lifecycle. The optimization of claims management with geospatial data can increase customer satisfaction, control claims-related costs and improve the utilization of claims resources for a competitive advantage. •
Rob Daleman is VP, Corporate Marketing, with DMTI Spatial. He brings 17-plus years of industry experience in technology fields to helping Canadian companies and organizations get the most out of location intelligence solutions. Previously, Daleman held positions at Avaya Canada, Dell Canada and Maple Leaf Foods. He holds an MBA from the Schulich School of Business.