Insurance has seen a lot of disruption over the last couple decades. Those innovations have brought profound benefits to both policyholder and insurer during times of relative stability – but how do they fare during regional crises?
Here in the wake of Harvey and Irma, we're finding out. These tropical storms represent “the first true catastrophe” since insurtech laid claim to innovation, according to Insurance Thought Leadership CEO Paul Carroll. We thought we'd take a look at how insurers are putting those tools to use.
Self-service & chatbots
Remote damage assessment can reduce the wait time on a claim, said Jay Sarzen, senior analyst at the research firm Aite Group. When individuals can send photos and videos on their damages, insurers can process claims more quickly. This information can also help alleviate the pressure insurers face on claims adjuster capacity.
Chatbots too can help things move more quickly. "Insurers have begun using chatbots, such as Pypestream’s, in their call centers, which should help handle the deluge of calls that will come in from customers and allow insurers to contact customers more often and more effectively to keep them up to date on the progress of claims," Carroll said.
What if policyholders can't upload pictures? That's when adjusters arrive on the scene – climbing on roofs, slogging through mud and water, assessing damages, and expediting claims so that policyholders can get back to their lives as soon as possible.
“But with the hardest-hit areas still in search-and-rescue mode, some of those claims workers remain on standby,” said Ally Marotti at the Chicago Tribune. “Roads are impassable, and the insurance industry is left largely in the dark as to potential damages.”
In those cases – as well as when carriers need a better view of the damages – drones can help by gathering aerial data, said Sarzen. Sometimes their ability to collect visual data can keep adjusters out of harm's way, too. When a drone is taking video of a roof, you don't have to climb up there in person.
That said, drones do have limitations. They're not a pure substitute for adjusters. “They cannot fly in heavy wind or rain, and they cannot go inside homes to inspect damage," said Pat Eaton-Robb of the Associated Press.
When an insurer's regular team of adjusters are spread thin, and when drones can't do the job, the gig economy may be able to help. Companies like WeGoLook provide an on-demand workforce that “can scale up and down rapidly in response to demand,” said Ahmad Raza at HuffPost.
Response is one thing. What about prediction? Here, insurtech has performed positively within recent weeks. "I’d say insurtech startup HazardHub wins early points for putting out an analysis right before the storm saying that $77 billion of property was at risk in Houston, quite a bit higher than other estimates I saw,” Carroll said.
Likewise, Ann Arbor startup EigenRisk provided forecasts on Harvey's path of damage, sending automated warnings to help service teams communicate with clients about their risks. As the storm progressed, it switched to providing estimates of personal and commercial losses, sending updates within hours of new developments.
“The FEMA flood maps’ 'binary' approach – in or out of the 100-year flood zone – has not been effective in communicating all of the various flood risks to which homeowners are subject,” said Albert Slap, president of the analytics firm Coastal Risk Consulting.
But what if insurers could paint an accurate picture of the risk of tidal flooding, max storm surges in flood conditions, and heavy rainfall or high groundwater? Chances are, more people would buy flood insurance, and in a disaster scenario, fewer people would be weathering it unprotected.
The FedNat Insured Web is a great tool for our insureds!
They like having a centralized location to view policy info, make payments, upload policy documents, and elect to become paperless to receive a discount.
The insureds also can file a First Notice of Loss for a claim and access exiting claim info. Silvervine recently enhanced the site which allows insureds to upload policy documents directly to their policy. The uploaded docs go directly into our workflows and save a lot of manual effort on our part.
From my visits with agents, the agents appreciate the app for the amount of time saved on having to download and attach photos directly to the policy.
The app can also reduce the amount of staff required for a busy office to fulfill underwriting requests for photos.
When training agents they are amazed at how quickly the photos attach directly to the policy. After taking photos using the app and before they make it back to their desk, the photo is already attached to the policy. They also like the ability to attach additional photos for pre-existing damage.
Customer Service is seeing an improvement with retention as the text message definitely triggers phone calls from insureds to make payments.
The insureds love the fact that we notify them on their phones because they state that sometimes they don’t receive their mail for various reasons.
The insureds are paying more attention to the texts then to their actual mail. We try to set all of our customers up on that option if we notice that they are not currently enrolled, as it builds great customer relations as well as retention.
As a company we have adopted the use of Policy Scan for all our policies, and our agents have adopted the use of the app as well.
Not only is it easy to use, there is also no more worrying about losing photos, having to store photos or photos being attached to the wrong policy.
With Policy Scan we have increased efficiency in our workflow and reduced our exposure on the risk.
Silvervine’s core administration solutions easily handles multiple carriers within multiple states, including accounting, payment processing, immediate policy issuance and endorsements.
What started out writing one product, one line in one state has now grown into mulitple products, multiple lines and writing in multiple states. We have over $95 million in annualized premium in-force and we expect to grow by 20% during the next year all serviced by Silvervine.
Silvervine was our insurance software system of choice when we started the company in 2006. Silvervine enabled us to begin business within a few months of licensing the company. Today, we are one of the top 20 homeowner’s writers in Texas and SIlvervine’s solutions have been an integral part of our success.