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A Fort McMurray Case Study, Part 2

| August 11, 2016

The Situation

Two months after devastating May wildfires hit Fort McMurray, Canadian residents and businesses are picking up the pieces from the worst natural disaster in the country’s history. Nearly $300M was raised for Fort McMurray relief efforts, 2,500 homes and buildings were destroyed and over 4,000 small businesses were adversely impacted. Many insurance adjusters and restoration contractors have now departed Fort McMurray while the 90k+ evacuated homeowners head back to the city.

Catastrophic events (“CATs”) like Fort McMurray are an “all hands on deck” scenario. Insurance carriers, independent adjusters (IA) and contractors work together in concert to inspect damage, write estimates, get checks written and return life to “normal” for policyholders as quickly as possible. IA and restoration firms are increasingly turning to “team handling” workflows to capture field documentation more effectively and enable “desk” workers (often staffed from a hotel location during a CAT) to handle estimate writing and other administrative tasks while the field workforce moves from one property to the next assessing damage. Gone are the days where a high volume number (or significant amount) of losses per day can effectively be handled by one field adjuster or restoration worker; the volume of work is too substantial and policyholders’ demands are too high. Field and desk tasks must be split to maintain reasonable cycle times during CAT events.

Spex was used for hundreds of inspections at Fort McMurray by insurance professionals seeking a better, more efficient approach to document fire, smoke, wind and water damage. Those digital inspections include thousands of photos, notes, diagrams, videos and audio files that help communicate the story of the damage directly from the field. SpexReports® served as a critically important form of collaboration between IA firms, restoration firms, insurance carriers and even policyholders directly.

The Results

Spex consistently makes the property inspection process faster. According to Spex customers at Fort McMurray, inspectors were able to increase the number of their average daily inspections by 45% with the use of the Spex platform. Additionally, Spex customers are able to receive, assign and respond to nearly 100% of inspections from insurance carriers (or other loss parties) within 24 hours of receipt. That level of reliability and responsiveness is an essential factor in overall claim cycle times.

On the other hand, data connectivity is far from reliable during CAT events. Nearly all Spex-generated inspections were conducted offline during Fort McMurray. Inspectors synced their field data back to the Spex Dashboard as soon as they regained Internet access. The ability to toggle back and forth between online and offline access is a challenging and fundamentally necessary technology component of the Spex platform.

Lastly, Pat Foisey at Claim Assist Canada (CAC) and other Spex customers repeatedly speak to the value of “inspection organization” through Spex. Having all inspection data automatically organized is a key to speed. Even useful, digital solutions like Dropbox result in mismanaged, mislabeled photos and inspection data, particularly during high-volume events like Fort McMurray. With Spex, all inspection data is collected by assignment, structure and area and each entry is properly labeled. Those efficiencies result in significant time savings, plus future archive value, to firms like CAC and recipients of SpexReports®.

While a number of large Canadian businesses are feeling the economic impact of the large catastrophe and homeowners are working to re-establish their previous lives, many Canadians are better off today for the presence of Spex as part of the Fort McMurray resolution effort. We were grateful to be a part of the restoration effort.