The Use of Drones and Other Technology for Insurance Claim Handling

There has been lots of recent talk about the testing and progress surrounding the use of drones and other technology by the insurance industry to streamline the claim filing process for the policyholder.  Here are just a few questions and opinions concerning the use of these tools.

  • Does the insurance company’s use of technology (drone and photo app) make the claim filing process easier for the consumer?

The use of technology doesn’t have any effect on making the claim filing process easier for the consumer (policyholder).  The use of certain technology, including drones and photo apps, is a great tool for both the insurance adjuster and public adjuster.  However, it in no way replaces the human aspect of claim inspection and estimating.

  • Should the use of this technology for claims processing be considered by the consumer as a factor when choosing which insurance company to use?

Absolutely not.  The use of drones and other technology by the insurance company could possibly help with the initial inspection and getting the claim started.  It in no way should affect the ultimate outcome or payment of the claim.  Therefore, it should not have any bearing on what insurance company the consumer chooses to go with to insure their property.

  • Will the use of technology streamline the claim filing process? Is that beneficial to the consumer?

To streamline the process would mean cutting valuable corners and missing valuable aspects of the claim.  While this may be a savings to the insurance company, it could be detrimental to the consumer (policyholder) and their claim.  The fact is that the insurance companies are a for profit business.  Therefore, any savings to the company will be pocketed and pad that quarterly financial report.

Summary:

The use of drones and other technology are great tools for both the insurance adjuster and the public adjuster.  However, its use cannot replace the human aspect of the claim.

First, let’s talk about a commercial flat roof and how difficult it can be to see the damage when you are actually on the roof.  Lots of times the adjuster needs to take a core sample to show that water has penetrated the membrane of the commercial roof as a result of the hail damage.  This type of damage is very difficult to pick up with an eye on the roof and therefore certainly would not be exposed from photos taken from a drone.

Next, let’s consider a widespread swath of large hail and whether or not the insurance company could fly a drone over to take pictures of the roofs of an entire neighborhood.  That would be a great start, but it doesn’t take into consideration the additional collateral damages – gutters, AC units, windows and window frames, patio furniture, fencing, etc.  There may also be interior damage from leaks caused as a result of the hail damage.  A drone certainly couldn’t take photos of any interior damage.

Some insurance companies are also utilizing the use of new photo apps to assist the policyholder with contents that are damages.  Most large content losses usually occur as a result of a fire or flood claim.  In those situations, the use of a photo app would be great for an initial documentation of the loss.  However, the insured is not trained in how best to take these photos and has no idea usually the amount of time it takes.  It also doesn’t consider that the insurance company will also request the insured to price and date the items, which a photo app doesn’t do for you.

You cannot replace the human element of adjusting claims, you just can’t.  ALL OF THESE THINGS ARE GREAT TOOLS FOR THE CLAIM INDUSTRY, BUT CANNOT BE A SUBSTITUTE OR REPLACEMENT FOR BOOTS ON THE GROUND AND EYES ON THE ROOF.

  • Message to the consumer should be that whatever means the insurance company employs for an inspection and estimate – human or drone/technology – the scope and estimate produced is still a result of someone who works on behalf of the insurance company, NOT the consumer.
  • In our opinion, the consumer needs to always consult and hire their own expert – public adjuster.

More information can be found at http://realestate.usnews.com/real-estate/articles/why-isnt-filing-a-homeowners-insurance-claim-as-easy-as-auto-insurance

You Do the Math – The Push for a Legislative Remedy in Texas

A recent article by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram concerning SB10 proposing constraints on litigation surrounding hail claims in Texas includes some interesting numbers. According to the data contained in the article, there were nearly 400,000 hail claims filed in Texas in 2015 which resulted in 9,910 lawsuits. You do the math – that is a mere 2.4775%.

Based on these numbers, do we really need any legislative remedy?

The insurance companies want you to believe the claims that result in litigation are the cause of higher premiums and/or cancellations. Some of those companies even use the threat of pulling out of the state completely which they say would also result in an increase in premiums and narrow the pool of insurers to choose from.

Senate Bill 10 is not good for the Texas consumer and is yet another attempt at placing constraints on the consumer when it comes to being paid properly on a claim. Although more streamlined than previous attempts, SB 10 is still too broad and does nothing more than help pad the insurance industry’s pockets.

http://www.star-telegram.com/opinion/editorials/article136097893.html#storylink%3Dcpy

http://www.bizjournals.com/austin/news/2017/02/13/texas-lawmakers-file-bill-that-takes-aim-at.html