Weekly Wrapup: What new claims innovations will Florence yield?

The Weekly Wrapup is an analysis of the week's insurance tech news from the editors of Digital Insurance.

A potentially devastateing Hurricane Florence is rumbling toward the Carolina coast this weekend, but for as historic as each new storm seems to be, insurers are preparing in relatively typical ways like activating additional staff in preparation for an onslaught of claims. For digitally focused observers of the industry, much of the interesting part will come after the storm passes through. That's when we will get a first look at any new technologies that are being rolled out to help serve customers in their time of need.

In the wake of last year's trifecta of hurricanes, Harvey, Irma and Maria, insurers leaned heavier than ever on drone programs, which moved from the pilot phase (no pun intended) to full rollouts. In addition, Satellite imagery was used at a higher level than ever before. And partnerships with insurtechs offering AI systems for image analytics and estimating.

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Residents place sandbags at the entrance of a home ahead of Hurricane Florence in Wilmington, North Carolina on Sept. 11. Photographer: Charles Mostoller/Bloomberg

In the year since the last hurricane season, claims innovation has continued, especially around the use of AI. The insurtech Hi Marley has deployed a messaging offering to help rout and handle claims with three P&C carriers. And EY sees robotic process automation – a kind of AI, if not purely machine-learning-driven – helping insurers capture data, fill out forms and validate payments.

This year, those kinds of digital investments and more will continue to pay off. But insurers are also looking to strike a delicate balance between leveraging technology to make their processes more efficient, and making sure that their customers feel like there is a person listening to their concerns. SMA's Karen Pauli writes that there are two particular ways in P&C insurance that digital supports a personal touch in claims:

  • Self-reporting via photo and video. Apps that facilitate the insured or claimant in providing visual representation of damage will speed the claim along versus waiting for an adjustor or inspector to do the same thing. Faster settlement clearly meets consumer expectations. Additionally, precious claims resources are preserved for more complex claims.
  • Self-reported photos and videos along with AI analysis. The resulting outcomes from AI analysis can facilitate the next-generation of straight through processing (STP), ultimately going well past the current glass and towing claims STP, as things such as machine learning evolve over time. Again, shorter time to settlement with little or no claims adjustor involvement – a win-win!
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