Canadian Underwriter

Adjusters need new skill set to handle technology-type claims; industry must identify benefit technology can provide

February 2, 2016   by Angela Stelmakowich, Editor

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Drones are a new technology that could lead to more claims given the current environment, but also clearly illustrate the need for a new breed of adjuster equipped with a different skill set, Paul Hancock, national director of global technical services at Crawford & Company, suggested Tuesday in Toronto.

Future adjusters need new expertise, skill set

“Due to obstacles like the skills of operators, lack of training, untested technology and the liability associated with drones in crowded areas, I think there’s going to be more collisions, accidents, injuries and property damage,” Hancock predicted during the 49th Annual Canadian Insurance Claims Managers Association/ Canadian Independent Adjusters’ Association Ontario Chapter Joint Conference.

“Do we have the skilled adjusters that understand the regulation, the technology, that are able to handle the claims?” he asked.

The face of claims is changing and will continue to do so with rapidly unfolding technology. There are several areas “where the risk and expertise required is new,” Hancock told attendees.

For example, he said, the global connected home market is predicted to reach $235 billion by 2016, the Internet of Things segment is expected to grow 476% from 2012 to 2020, there could be 85 million driverless vehicles by 2015, and global spending on drones could exceed US$100 billion over the next decade.

For the most part, things like drones, the Internet of Things, telematics and driverless cars offer the promise of helping to reduce the number of claims, Hancock noted.

That said, while the next skilled adjusters may not be dealing with as many claims, the claims they do handle will certainly be different and they will need to have the expertise and skill set to handle them.

There is a “growing need for more and different complex loss adjusters. The future of adjusting will be engineering, IT professionals, data analysts, lawyers, accountants, quantification experts doing their thing, for the most part, 24/7, 365, remotely and virtually,” Hancock suggested to attendees.

With regard to driverless vehicles, what is going to happen if the technology fails and an accident occurs? he asked. “Instead of the driver being responsible, the question becomes, is the vehicle manufacturer responsible, software, the city, the town, the province that had to create the infrastructure to support the driverless car?” he added. “Claims adjudication will not be a human response based on witnesses, purely based on technology.”

But technology also offers adjusters help with both investigation and assessment processes. Noting that his company has recently purchased a drone, it can serve as the “eye of adjusters,” Hancock said. “Drones are going to offer us the ability to improve the efficiency and the effectiveness of a variety of claims-handling and risk management tasks that otherwise may be tedious, difficult and even dangerous to the people who do them,” he said.

As for vehicle telematics, Hancock reported that there has there has been considerable uptake. “We’re going to have first notice of loss, probably immediately, we’re going to be able to have investigation details supplied accurately and quickly,” he said. “So it probably changes some of our investigation, but opens up opportunities elsewhere.”

From a forensic engineering perspective, Chris Giffin, president and co-founder of Giffin Koerth, suggested that losses now being handled demand response from a multi-disciplinary team.

“The size of the firms that are required to handle the diversity of the losses, and the complexity of the losses, that you guys are dealing with is immense,” Giffin said. “You need a large, multi-disciplinary team with both depth and breadth of expertise,” so that team members are able to come together when required.

Hancock further emphasized the industry needs to determine how best to use new technologies to its benefit. “We, as an industry, have struggled a little bit to show our ability to move quickly to adapt processes and expectations to meet a fast-changing environment and the needs of our customer,” he told attendees.

“These next changes are actually here now; they’re going to continue and they’re going to happen quicker than we’ve been used to,” Hancock said. “I think we’ve got a real opportunity in these spaces if we’ve got the right technology, the right expertise, to be able to manage more claims and different claims,” he added.

With large losses, “business interruption is something that we need to be turning our eyes to, mitigate and get on with the remediation as quickly and as efficiently as possible,” Giffin said.

“Another area that forensic engineers can assist while bringing expertise is helping with the quantification of the damage and helping in the setting of reserves, which we know is a big challenge,” he added.

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