2/27/2014

Aerial Imaging Advancements Translate into Better Roof Claims Handling

Many insurance professionals are using aerial imaging to deliver faster and more precise service to customers with roof damage.

By Jeffrey C. Taylor

Roof damage is one of the most time-consuming and complicated types of losses to handle, and studies show that these losses account for 30 percent of all homeowners’ claims in the U.S. over the past five years. Traditional inspection methods, which include a tape measure, pad of paper, and ladder, are time-consuming and can significantly add to the time it takes to resolve a claim.

Concerned by studies and practical experience that show customer satisfaction quickly drops the longer it takes to settle a claim, many insurance professionals are using aerial imaging to deliver faster and more precise service to customers with roof damage by enabling adjusters to learn about a structure in advance of the initial site visit. At the same time, these professionals believe that aerial imaging technology can notably reduce claims-handling costs.

Imagery and Data for Property Insurance

Recent advances in aerial imaging technology make possible the capture of high-resolution imagery calibrated specifically for use in the property industry. They also make possible a new way of extracting data and insight about individual properties that provide adjusters with opportunities to change the way they handle roof claims and deliver service.

Through the use of sophisticated techniques and high-resolution aerial images, massive amounts of data can be extracted to supply claims professionals with in-depth insights about the structures and losses they are adjusting. These images clearly show all details of a roof’s dimensions and even show fine details such as vents, satellite dishes, chimneys, air-conditioning units, rain gutters, and individual shingles. All dimensions and slopes can be measured with a high degree of precision to create a detailed roof plan that can be imported quickly into a claims estimating system.

Before setting foot on site, adjusters can know vital characteristics and have all of the roof data and insight they need to adjust the loss properly. Instead of spending hours measuring the structure, the adjuster needs to verify only the precision of the roof dimensions and then estimate replacement costs for shingles and other items needed to return the structure to its original condition.

Policyholders React

The highly positive reaction of policyholders to fast roof claims resolution, complete with high-resolution aerial photographs of their homes, can lead to significant gains in customer satisfaction and retention. The roof imagery and data can be sent to mobile devices to settle losses on the first visit, making claims resolution even faster and reducing the number of on-site calls.

Aerial imagery and insight married to mobile devices can be particularly helpful after a catastrophe such as a hailstorm, where many roofs are damaged and claims-handling resources are stretched thin. Aerial data not only help claims managers to keep up with the surge in reported losses, but also enhance customer service after a catastrophe.

 Even when access to a damaged home or neighborhood is restricted by civil authorities due to safety concerns, adjusters still can obtain aerial roof insights about damaged structures, which will help dramatically shorten the claims cycle once access is again allowed.

By properly applying these principles when leveraging aerial imagery data, claims professionals are finding that they can provide such extraordinary service that homeowners—even those acclimated to the culture of immediacy—feel compelled to share their satisfaction with friends, family, and acquaintances. 



Jeffrey C. Taylor is president of Geomni, a Verisk Analytics business specializing in technologies related to image capture and analysis. He has been a CLM Fellow since 2014 and can be reached at (800) 424-9228, www.xactware.com.

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