Friday October 18, 2019
Home Lead Story Insurance Com...

Insurance Company’s Response To Wildfire Claims Better Due to Technology

In some cases, even before adjusters arrive on scene, claims experts can assess damage from the fires and cut checks by using before-and-after images taken by drones

0
//
California, Fire prevention, wildfires, Insurance
Joe Balog, a workforce management director at Travelers, examines weather, social media and other data from recent natural disasters inside the company's catastrophe response command center in Windsor, Connecticut. VOA

As wildfires raged this month in California, insurance claims experts at Travelers sat in a command center 3,000 miles (4,828 kilometers) away in Connecticut, monitoring screens showing satellite images, photos from airplane flyovers and social media posts describing what was happening on the ground.

Real-time data and technology that were unavailable to property-casualty companies even a few years ago have shaped the industry’s response to the Camp Fire, which has burned nearly 240 square miles (622 square kilometers) in northern California and the 151-square-mile (391-square-kilometer) Woolsey Fire in the Los Angeles area.

By overlaying the data on maps marking its customers’ locations, the company can quickly identify those who are likely to have been affected, said Jim Wucherpfennig, Travelers vice president of claims.

California, Fire prevention, wildfires, Insurance
A controlled burn ignites pine trees on the “Rough Fire” — which closed camps east of Fresno at Hume Lake as it crossed Highway 180 — in the Sequoia National Forest in California, Aug. 21, 2015. VOA

“That allows us to deploy people and resources where they are needed most,” he said.

The same data also can be used to determine risk and pricing for insurance in any given area, said Peter Kochenburger, the deputy director of the University of Connecticut’s insurance law center. Insurers, for example, can use the telemetry to identify local vegetation, wind patterns and fire history. In some cases, it can determine that the owner of one home is more likely to suffer damage than the owner of a neighboring home, he said.

“Does it seem intrusive? It can be,” he said. “They have a lot more information on all of us, on our properties than they had two, five, 10 years ago. That’s a major issue and that’s something regulators are going to have to talk about.”

During the wildfires, Travelers said the information has been used to expedite claims, even in areas that are still inaccessible to inspectors.

California, Fire prevention, wildfires, Insurance
The burned out hulks of cars abandoned by their drivers sit along a road. VOA

Workers were able to see what roads were open and map out spots in Chico and Thousand Oaks to park the RVs that serve as mobile claim centers, the company said. The tools also indicated where customers who evacuated were going to be, Wucherpfennig said.

The glassed-in Travelers National Catastrophe Center is located in Windsor, Connecticut. Modeled after military war rooms, it includes a conference table behind 19 high-definition screens, which display maps, graphs, television images and social media sites, all providing real-time data on the fires.

Also Read: U.S. Officials Find Solutions To Prevent Increased Wildfires

In some cases, even before adjusters arrive on scene, claims experts can assess damage from the fires and cut checks by using before-and-after images taken by drones, aircraft or satellites as well as videos or photos uploaded by customers from their phones. Employees have tools and smart phone apps that can convert those photos into instant measurements, to help quantify the damage.

“We’re able to virtually interact with customers much more easily than we could even in the recent past,” Wucherpfennig said. “We’re also able to monitor all forms of social media in real time. That helps us create an event footprint, which helps us understand how the event is tracking and what type of damages we’re seeing.” (VOA)

Next Story

Now Pay Bills on Amazon Pay While Speaking to Alexa

Once approved, Alexa will complete the transaction using Amazon Pay, and send a notification to the customer's registered mobile phone number, confirming the transaction

0
Alexa
The integration of Amazon Pay with Alexa will help reduce both time and effort for customers who use Amazon Pay for bill payments and repeat similar transactions every month. Pixabay

In an India-first feature, Amazon on Wednesday announced that users can now pay their utility bills with Amazon Pay just by speaking to its digital assistant Alexa in the country.

The new Alexa feature supports payment of bills across categories such as electricity, water, post-paid mobile, cooking gas, broadband, DTH and more.

Users of Amazon Echo, Fire TV Stick and other devices with Alexa built-in, can just give commands such as “Alexa, pay my mobile bill” or “Alexa, pay my electricity bill” to get started.

“The integration of Amazon Pay with Alexa will help reduce both time and effort for customers who use Amazon Pay for bill payments and repeat similar transactions every month.

“We are excited to share that this is an India-first feature which Alexa customers in India can enjoy before any other international customers,” Puneesh Kumar, Country Manager for Alexa Experiences and Devices, said in a statement.

Alexa
The new Alexa feature supports payment of bills across categories such as electricity, water, post-paid mobile, cooking gas, broadband, DTH and more for Amazon Pay. Pixabay

Alexa will retrieve the amount due for bills from their registered Amazon account and ask for customer confirmation before processing the payment. Customers can enable a voice pin on the Alexa app to make transactions more secure.

Once approved, Alexa will complete the transaction using Amazon Pay, and send a notification to the customer’s registered mobile phone number, confirming the transaction.

ALSO READ: Indian Army to Use New System of Digitised Records of Officers

Alexa will also send a link to register their bill details on the Amazon shopping app before proceeding for the payment, said the company. (IANS)