Jay Sarzen, Aite Group
Jay Sarzen, Aite Group

Hurricane Harvey is likely to come in as one of the most expensive storms to hit the United States. Losses could mount to $30 billion, according to one estimate posted by Bloomberg. And the number of claims will surely be in the tens of thousands.

The P&C claim is the moment of truth for carriers. Insurers have to get the process right for a number of reasons. Chiefly, carriers have to fulfill their promises made to policyholders in the event a loss is suffered, which runs hand-in-hand with policyholder satisfaction and higher retention rates. But carriers also have to maintain profitability and want to avoid paying out more than they have to.

Not shockingly, claims historically have involved an arduous process to determine a proper settlement that sometimes involved an element of guesswork. But now, with the rise of technology and big data, carriers can deliver on their promise to their policyholders much more quickly than in the past and with more accuracy.

As Hurricane Harvey churns over South Texas, it is likely that many P&C carriers will deploy some of this technology and leverage big data to deliver on their promise to policyholders. These include:

· Remote damage assessment via mobile upload: when possible, policyholders will be able to upload pictures of their damaged property to allow carriers to assess the damage from a remote location rather than making policyholders wait for an extended period of time. More critically, given the extent of the damage, carriers will likely have claims adjuster capacity issues, so mobile uploads could help mitigate this issue.

· Drones: if policyholders are not able to upload pictures or if carriers need a better view of damaged property, it is likely that a few carriers will use drones to gather data from an aerial point of view to help them assess the damage.

· Weather data: Harvey’s reach is broad, but there is a limit. Carriers can use accurate weather data to measure rainfall, wind gusts and overlay that data across neighborhoods to determine which houses were likely to have suffered damage. This could help the carriers understand the locations where damage from Harvey is likely to be more or less severe, which can help guide settlement decisions.

Jay Sarzen is a senior analyst in the P&C Insurance practice at Aite Group, an independent research and consulting company.

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