Travel restrictions and lockdowns related to the coronavirus pandemic have made commercial property inspections and loss investigations more challenging to perform, experts say.
Despite the difficulties, the pandemic will accelerate the long-term digital push across the industry and "1966002]" With government mandate lockups, property loss inspections have not been possible to any great extent, "said Gary Marchitello, president of Willis Towers Watson PLC's North American
But when lockdowns are reduced or completely shut down, the industry can now come out and inspect again, he said.
But the resumption phase is not without barriers, as many policyholders "do not want to expose their workers to outsiders, which has been an obstacle, "Marchitello said.
The second issue is that the insurers themselves are busy exposing their employees, he said. [1
Crawford & Co.'s initial response focused on employee safety and protected them from possible exposure to any risk, said Kenneth Tolson, United States President for Damages at the Atlanta-based company.
In the United States, Crawford conducted a pre-audit of claims to determine if its adjusters were at risk of entering these properties, he said.
"We found that only 3% of our injury population was affected, and these figures have remained steady since then, so we can still carry out inspections," Tolson said.
Still, some areas are closed more than others. For example, "there are much greater exposure levels in New York where we had challenges with public transportation," Tolson said. "These are the places that have been toughest for us."
When it comes to exterior checks, they have gone smoothly, with relatively few concerns from policyholders, because social distance can be maintained, says Perry Mayerle, Amelia, Ohio-based deputy vice president and head of real estate claims at American Modern Insurance Group Inc., part by Munich Reinsurance Co.
"The challenge has come up a bit with interior inspections," although the ability to use video technology has helped, Mr. Mayerle said so.
Under these circumstances, it is important to give policyholders alternatives, he said.
If policyholders are comfortable with the arrangement, an adjuster equipped with personal protective equipment such as a mask and gloves can make an on-site inspection as normal while maintaining social distance, Mr. Mayerle.
If they do not want an adjustment in the property, video technology can be used, and "we can guide them through the inspection with an adjustment in the phone," he said.
"Many insureds are susceptible to it. We have definitely seen an increase in video inspections in recent months," he added.
Technology plays a key role in effectively adjusting commercial property losses, especially given the social distance requirements of COVID-19, and the challenges of accessing properties in large-scale natural disasters, said Taylor Archambault, director of commercial real estate claims for Liberty Mutual Insurance Co. based in Boston.
The insurer recently introduced two new techniques to improve its ability to remotely inspect and adjust property losses.
"The first one allows customers to stream video from the damaged property to our injury specialists, enabling them to better understand the damage," Mr. Archambault.
It also has an app that allows policyholders to provide photos of the damage from a smartphone or tablet, and "from there, the app can merge those photos and provide a model or sketch of the room or room where the damage occurred," Mr. Archambault.
Certain hazards and structures are most favorable to the technology, such as "a pipe frame situation, water leaks from appliances, sewer backups, low severity, smoke, electrical fires, vandalism, roof damage from leaks," he said.
The technology limitation is that it is calibrated for smaller spaces.
"If you are a large company with a lot of smaller rooms, it will work just fine. It would include hotels, office buildings, strips, restaurants. When you start moving into large commercial open spaces such as warehouses and manufacturing facilities, the efficiency of technology fades away. "Said Archambault.
Mr. Tolson cited recently invested investments in self-service tools and remote analytics that have enabled Crawford to handle more demands from the desktop.
" In (Hurricanes) Harvey, Irma and Maria's time frame, we adopted a number of these tools, and We got more claims from the desktop that normally in earlier times required more people to fall in the field, "Tolson said.
Because of these advances, Crawford can handle more claims now and COVID-19 has accelerated This, he said.
The development of drones for loss investigations is likely to increase as well, Mr. Marchitello said.
"It does not replace completely boots on the ground, but it can give you a good overview of what injuries look like, especially if it's widespread damage, "he said.
Technology played an important role before the public health crisis, but the pandemic has provided "the need and given the industry the tray to use it wider," Mr. Archambault so.
"As the coming hurricane seasons predicted above average, these virtual solutions are becoming increasingly important with the risks of a continued outbreak and the second wave of COVID-19," he said.