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Advisen Front Page News - Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Insurers turn to tech to streamline hurricane claims process


Insurers turn to tech to streamline hurricane claims process

By Erin Ayers, Advisen

With water damage claims making up a greater percent of hurricane losses in recent years, beginning the restoration process quickly before mold and rot set in becomes even more important. One insurer is preparing for the 2019 hurricane season with an increased focus on speed of claims handling and using artificial intelligence to communicate with customers.

In a recent conversation with Advisen, QBE North America highlighted some of the trends seen over the last few years that indicate water damage has become an increased concern relative to wind damage. Starting in 2016, the company found water damage played a role in more than 50 percent of claims. For Hurricane Harvey, the percentage exceeded 80 percent. In Hurricane Florence, that number exceeded 70 percent.

Monique McQueen, assistant vice president of catastrophe claims at QBE North America, explained that increased water damage can result in longer restoration periods, loss of use for homeowners and businesses, and higher incidences and severity of sewer and drain backup claims.

“The key with mold and rot is speed and early mitigation,” said McQueen. “The earlier you can get the mitigation effort started, the better.”

While building code requirements have improved the ability of properties to withstand hurricane-force wind damage, water damage claims can be battled with proactive messaging before hurricanes hit as well as with advances that make it possible to begin evaluating damage without having to wait for an adjuster.

With a 3-D exterior modeling smartphone app and other specialized apps, QBE can walk property owners through the process of evaluating damage. Then throughout the claims process via its Text QBE program, an AI-powered virtual assistant, the insurer can provide status updates to customers.

“This will help with the bottleneck on adjusters on small and mid-sized customers,” said McQueen.

Planning for hurricanes begins well before the season now, according to McQueen. After the active storm seasons of 2018 and 2017, QBE set out not only to educate customers via “gentle reminders” about hurricane season, but also to dig into the data and develop its vendor contracts to ensure the best response team possible.

The hurricane claims process has changed dramatically in recent years, both in the severity of storms and the technology used to respond, McQueen explained.

“The speed of handling claim has changed so much over the years. That innovation and technology is really what we should be focusing on,” she said.

Editor Erin Ayers can be reached at