Claims technology plays a vital role in effectively adjusting commercial property losses. Today, remote inspection and estimation capabilities are more important than ever, given the social distancing requirements of the COVID-19 pandemic and the challenges of accessing policyholders’ facilities in the wake of severe weather events and large-scale natural catastrophes.
In recognition of this, Liberty Mutual Insurance has invested in new technology, infrastructure and processes that have enabled its claims team to work remotely while maintaining the high levels of service and responsiveness needed to assess and manage property claims. In May, the commercial property claims unit rolled out two new technologies that enable claims to be inspected and estimated virtually.
The first tool enables customers to stream video from a damaged property to Liberty Mutual’s commercial property claims specialists, allowing them to quickly assess the damage remotely. The second, which is a Liberty Mutual app, lets customers send images of any damages from a smart phone or tablet, which claims managers can then use to measure the impacted area, thus speeding up claims estimating and adjustment.
“Both of these tools allow us to collaborate with our customers while remaining socially distant,” commented Taylor Archambault (pictured), manager of commercial property claims at Liberty Mutual. “One is more of a collaboration tool around communication. It allows for the sharing of video so we can have that face-to-face experience with the customer without being face-to-face in person. Internally, we’ve been using video meetings for a while now, and we feel like it adds another dimension to our meetings. To use video when we connect with customers externally seemed like a great opportunity, so one of the tools is enabling that.
“The second tool assists our adjusters with the task of estimating structural damages in a more dynamic way. It allows the customer, through our web-based app, to take photos and videos of damages, which the software then stitches together to create a CAD (computer-aided design) model, complete with measurements, room dimensions and so on. It gets the same results as if an adjuster were physically on site and walking from room to room taking photos and measurements.”
These aren’t the first technological investments the Liberty Mutual commercial property claims unit has made, and they certainly won’t be the last. For example, the insurer regularly uses aerial photography to understand the size and location of property losses. Following natural catastrophes, this aerial imagery enables claims adjusters to quickly evaluate damage to commercial property policyholders across an affected area without having to physically enter danger zones.
However, there are times when in-person damage evaluation is the best approach to helping a policyholder quickly rebound from a loss, according to Archambault. He told Insurance Business: “When I think about a future where the public health crisis has receded, there are customer considerations, especially in the large commercial property context (where my claims team operates), where customers are paying very large premiums on an annual basis. Some customers are more than happy to use technology to speed up the claims process, get a check in hand and restore their business as soon as possible, but others like to meet the person who is working their claim and have the opportunity to talk about their business and how the claim is impacting them.
“Some customers want the confidence you can get from an in-person meeting and the trust that can be built from that. I think the coronavirus has accelerated how we use technology […] and we’ve seen good results through doing that. However, in the large commercial space, we certainly would never say ‘no’ to a customer that wants to meet with us in person, and we will continue to carry out in-person inspections once conditions enable us to do that in a way that’s safe for both our customers and for our employees.”
The view at Liberty Mutual – and one that is shared by many commercial property claims specialists – is that technology is an enabler that will let an adjuster focus on the value-added work of damage assessment and estimation, as opposed to the process work of physically taking measurements and building CAD drawings that enable estimation.
Archambault elaborated: “At Liberty Mutual, we believe that technology is going to be a disruptor both for us and our clients’ organizations, but we also believe that the best claims organizations in the future, or the ones that will win, are those who are able to identify, organize and integrate data better than anyone else. They’ll focus humans where humans add unique value, and look to automate the things where there isn’t a human value-add.
“We need to continuously reinvent our processes to integrate AI-driven insights and create a culture that empowers people to solve problems using their judgment and their technical expertise as well as the available technologies. And then at the end of the day, empathy is key. Whether we’re talking about claims 50-years-ago, claims today, or claims 50-years in the future, I think the one thing that we can be certain of is that empathy will remain paramount.”