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Adapt and Overcome: The Future of Property Inspections

Stefanie D. Capps and Shirlarian N. Williams | May 18, 2021

In March of 2020, Coronavirus took the world by storm forcing most industries to improvise, adapt and overcome. For the insurance industry, the outbreak reinforced the need to digitize claims handling, and accelerate trends in remote property inspections, among other things. While some carriers were already using things like aerial imagery and virtual inspection programs, most had to quickly adapt and make changes that would keep both the property owner and the claims professional safe. These changes were fast-tracked by the pandemic to overcome challenges, but will have a long-term, if not permanent, impact on the claims process.


Here To Stay


• Electronic Photo / Video Submissions
In lieu of conducting interior property inspections, many insurers have allowed homeowners to take and submit photos of the claimed damage themselves. These may enhance an engineer’s inspection as it would provide additional perspective.
 
• Drone Inspections

Roof Damage

Post Disaster Claims Inspections - especially when areas may be restricted by civil authorities for days.
 
Fraud Monitoring - some policyholders file claims for damage that existed before an event took place. Insurers can disprove some claims by comparing drone camera images and satellite images taken before the event with those taken after it has occurred.

• Crawl Bots
Access to crawlspaces to view cracked foundations, leaking pipes, moisture damage to wood sub floors, etc.

• Hybrid


A combination of both video conference and in-person claims handling. (i.e., insured interviews/statements using a video platform such as Zoom while the property inspection is handled in person).

While there are certainly shortcomings to some of these methods, with the proper planning the necessary details can be obtained for a more robust investigation.


Be Mindful Of


• Electronic / Video submissions
Will likely work better for minor claims

Could result in not being able to view the property in its true condition as photo angles and lighting can make a big difference.
 
May make it difficult to determine causation especially when dealing with attics and crawl spaces that are sometimes difficult to access and document well.
 
Consider requesting a statement of loss with the photo / video submission
 
• Drones
Provide great aerial photos of the property but do not always tell the whole story. 
Cannot physically touch the property and therefore cannot tell if, for example, tiles are fastened properly to the roof the homeowner is claiming was damaged by a storm.


In the end, there must be a strong level of trust between a carrier and its insured to accept remote submissions with no “boots on the ground” at the property. We must balance the need to gather the best evidence with the safety and concerns of the individuals living in the property. So, it is extremely important insurers are communicating with the property owners to identify concerns regarding safety during the inspection process. For more information regarding techniques that your company can implement to ensure a safe and effective claims handling process, please contact us.

 

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