Filed Under:Claims, Catastrophe & Restoration

Seeing your way to better Harvey insurance claims management

Flooding from Tropical Storm Harvey surrounds buildings in Sabine Pass, Texas, next to the Gulf of Mexico, Thursday, Aug. 31, 2017. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Flooding from Tropical Storm Harvey surrounds buildings in Sabine Pass, Texas, next to the Gulf of Mexico, Thursday, Aug. 31, 2017. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Persistent flooding in Texas and Louisiana following Hurricane/Tropical Storm Harvey has limited access to numerous residential, commercial and industrial properties.

It has been difficult for property owners to safely assess wind, water, and other damage. Given the extensive losses expected, the ability to gather information at an early stage could be vital to recovery.

Related: 9 factors impacting claims in 2017

A range of rapidly-evolving technologies could make a real difference in successful catastrophic disaster claims after Harvey or in the future. Drones, fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters, satellites, and crowdsourcing combined with expert analysis can provide risk professionals with real-time insights for initial loss projections when they can’t get boots on the ground, allowing claims processes to move more swiftly.

Available technology

Drone technology has been around since 2003, but FAA regulations restricted commercial use to just a few specialized locations due to safety concerns. The 2012 FAA Modernization and Reform Act began to change that through controlled exemptions.

In 2015, the FAA released a notice of proposed rules for UAS commercial operations for small UAVs (under 55 pounds) that made significant commercial use changes. In June of 2016, the FAA took that further with the release of Part 107 of the Federal Aviation Regulations.

While commercial use of drones under 55 pounds is now more common, there are still many operational restrictions and a risk that a drone operator can be denied permission to fly if outside of Part 107 parameters.

Related: Drones are proving to be a valuable tool for adjusters

Drones are most often used to provide outdoor visual intelligence, but are increasingly being used indoors. And drones, along with satellites and fixed-wing aerial technology, can generate a variety of imagery and video, including thermal, infrared, lidar, radar, mapped video and immersive 3D visualization and measurement. These technology tools also can provide various levels of detail, from wide-area mapping to a narrowly-focused two-centimeter view.

Applying visual intelligence to claims

Visual intelligence tools can be used to establish what a property looks like under normal circumstances and following a disaster. Various combinations of visual intelligence technologies have been used to paint a complete picture of major property losses resulting from Canadian wildfires, the Tianjin port explosion, and United Kingdom floods. In these and other instances, the data gathered from non-human sources has come in faster, reduced safety exposures especially in hazardous areas and accelerated claims handling.

Related: 6 keys to optimizing claims performance

When applied to your own losses, visual intelligence can help you:

  • Triage for loss adjusting and inspection.

  • Accelerate claims settlement where properties are completely destroyed.

  • Provide justification for advanced payments based on imagery alone.

Visual intelligence can add a new dimension to your recovery capabilities when faced with a catastrophic event. Through different perspectives on your loss together with deep analysis, visual intelligence enables you to gather real-time, actionable information to advance your claims while preserving life safety and business operations.

Related: In claims, all roads lead to innovation

When every moment counts in the wake of a disaster, deploying visual intelligence can help improve your claims management processes and make all the difference.

Dr. Bev Adams is Head of Catastrophe Planning and Response at New York City-based Guy Carpenter, a global risk and reinsurance specialist, and wholly owned subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies. This article first appeared on and is reprinted here with permission. Visit the Marsh Risk in Context blog for the original post.


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