2/22/2010

Pushing Off the Legwork

Getting technology to do the heavy lifting saves time, employee risk and errors.

By Chris Barrow

Companies are constantly trying to find more productive ways to run their businesses, such as streamlining processes and increasing productivity. Equally important are low-cost solutions that improve their balance sheets. Advancements in technology for the insurance industry provide a perfect platform to accomplish these objectives. New processing, reporting and software technologies have evolved to bring savings and efficiencies to the claim site, the office and our day-to-day lives. Numerous software and technology-based products make the job of an adjuster easier while increasing accuracy, lowering costs and improving business productivity.

Emerging technological advancements are improving performance in several claims sectors: damage assessment, speed of claims processing, reduction of labor hours, improving accuracy and bolstering customer relations. Of particular value to adjusters are aerial measuring technologies, remote communications devices, calculation programs, and documentation software that permits the clear display of complicated data for presentation to the claimant.

Quickly Assess Damage
In the past, the ability to accurately assess damage meant a trip to the damage site, manually measuring the property, and sometimes putting the adjuster in a dangerous situation to obtain the claim data, particularly for catastrophe claims. New technologies in satellite and aerial imagery now allow adjusters to remotely measure properties. They also provide sophisticated calculations to accurately measure the property without an adjuster visiting the site.

The adoption of remote aerial measurement services for preliminary estimates has reduced claim-adjusting time and work-related injuries. These services will send the adjuster a detailed property report that includes photos and measurements of the site. From anywhere in the world, claims professionals with Internet access can retrieve vital information and assess damage to respond immediately to claims.
Process Claims Faster
Advances in processing software and streamlining of claims submittals has increased adjuster productivity and hastened the claims turnaround cycle. The use of wireless technology and online applications can speed up the process so claims can be filed from remote locations or onsite. The use of smartphones, global positioning systems, and hand-held devices provides the ability to create real-time estimates, access detailed site information, respond immediately to claims, and increase the number of claims per day. Not only can these devices provide maps, they can also provide weather information, location services and online claim submittals. Insurance industry applications are moving to the smartphone platform to make the claims process faster than ever before.

Eliminate Manual Processes
New technologies allow you to leave the “heavy lifting” to someone else. Claims processing software can be used to process multiple claims more quickly and allows the adjuster time to focus on other business matters. Emerging technology should be used as a tool to eliminate the manual processes so the adjuster can process claims faster and with less legwork.

Additionally, aerial measurement services can reduce the time spent calculating replacement cost estimates and have eliminated the need to spend hours laboring over cost calculations and spreadsheet formulas. Property measurements and calculations using remote measuring programs also help to cut back on time spent driving to the site, climbing the structure and manually measuring the site. Technology can provide all of the complex calculations with the click of a mouse key. No longer does an adjuster need to recall high school geometry or look up mathematical formulas to accurately assess a property. Many major insurance carriers have come to rely on remote estimation software services for increased accuracy and cost savings.

Cut Costs While Increasing Accuracy
Technology has also increased the accuracy of claims, reducing the need for costly recalculations and mitigating errors and omissions risk. Claims processing software services make it possible for more than one person to work on the same claim and allow claim assignments to be transferred between users. Estimates can be merged, sub-assignments can be transferred and tracked, and electronic inspections of estimates can be proofed to reduce potential errors.

These programs also allow for real-time remote monitoring to alert staff and flag potential errors or areas of concern without slowing down the process. Additionally, these services benefit the insurance provider by improving consistency and accuracy of claims by independent adjusters and third party contractors, and can reduce claim-adjusting expenses.
Increase Customer Satisfaction
Competition is stiff, and the client’s experience with a claim is often a defining factor in retention. Advancements in technology have increased the consumer’s expectation and the demand for a speedy resolution and claim check in hand. Insurance professionals who are focused on increasing the client’s experience can enhance their results by fostering a transparent relationship with their customers.

Consumers want to feel they are in a partnership with their insurance carrier. Online estimation resources generate a professional-looking report and provide documentation that demonstrates to the client how the estimate was calculated. This type of transparency will bolster the insurer’s credibility with the claimant. Documentation can also show that the estimate is within an industry-wide standard range and can serve as a guideline for the policyholder when assessing contractor repair estimates.

Today’s technology is ever more affordable and necessary as client demands for instant answers and speedy payment coincide with an ever-on, rapid-response culture. Speed, accuracy and productivity can all be enhanced with the right devices and well chosen software. Gadgets, access to data from the field, real-time quality monitoring, calculators and appropriate training can work together to improve the client experience, client retention and the bottom line.
Chris Barrow is CEO of EagleView Technologies, Inc. www.eagleview.com


Chris Barrow is CEO of EagleView Technologies, Inc.

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