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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

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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

Here’s How Alexa Will Let You Order Gifts Online

Customers can quickly place an order through this Skill for their special someone by just giving voice commands

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Alexa
The new Alexa Skill will also give customers suggestions and options to choose from bestselling gifts. Pixabay

India’s largest gifting brand, Ferns N Petals, has become the first such brand to launch Alexa Skill for gift delivery in Asia, the company said on Monday.

The Skill allows customers to order and send flowers or cakes through the voice assistant.

The brand is anticipating that the business generated through this initiative will touch 10 per cent of the overall online business by 2025.

“We are pleased to be the first player in the gifting industry to roll out Alexa Skill to provide our users an easy access and convenient ordering process of the products in flowers and cakes category,” said Pawan Gadia, CEO, online and retail, Ferns N Petals.

The company has developed ‘The Ferns N Petals Alexa Skill’ for easy access on all Alexa-enabled devices.

Customers can quickly place an order through this Skill for their special someone by just giving voice commands.

Alexa
India’s largest gifting brand, Ferns N Petals, has become the first such brand to launch Alexa Skill for gift delivery in Asia. Pixabay

In Phase 1, Alexa Skill will be launched for existing customers who have an account with Ferns N Petals and have a saved address in their profile.

The Skill will also give customers suggestions and options to choose from bestselling gifts.

ALSO READ: Handset Maker POCO To Unveil New Smartphone “POCO X2” on February 4

Customers can simply enable Alexa Skill for FNP and say, “Alexa, open Ferns N Petals” followed by “I’d like to order a cake”, the company said. (IANS)