Esurance turns to predictive analytics to settle hurricane claims faster

Esurance is using predictive analytics to skip adjuster inspections on auto claims related to Hurricane Harvey.

Captured images from planes equipped with cameras are run through the insurer's analytics software to reimburse policyholders on automobiles quickly, Esurance says. Its platform combines vehicle year, make, model and water depth to predict its reparability. The company has already begun distributing electronic payments to customers for flooded vehicles.

“When we confirm that a vehicle is likely submerged, we are declaring it a total loss and reimbursing the customer right away,” said Eric Brandt, chief claims officer at Esurance.

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Houses and trees stand immersed in floodwaters from Hurricane Harvey in this aerial photograph taken above West Columbia, Texas, U.S., on Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2017. Unprecedented flooding from the Category 4 storm that slammed into the state's coast last week, sending gasoline prices surging as oil refineries shut, may also set a record for rainfall in the contiguous U.S., the weather service said Tuesday. Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg

Contrary to other insurance carriers, Esurance opted to use planes, not drones for aerial images of flood damage caused by Harvey. The Allstate subsidiary deployed small aircrafts earlier in the week through an undisclosed contracted service provider. According to the company, planes provide wide-angle aerial imagery, allowing it to confirm flood affected areas more easily than using drones.

“In this circumstance, using planes gives us the flexibility we need to view areas that are not physically accessible,” Brandt said.

Esurance also dispatched a catastrophe response team to Dallas prior to Harvey making landfall last week to settle incoming claims. Additional personnel are also stationed around the country, Brandt says. Esurance’s policyholders so far have predominantly filed claims online, via mobile app and over the phone. The company declined to release current claim counts or preferred communication methods by customers.

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