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A Perfect Storm

Brett Goldberg | September 5, 2017

As we continue to receive calls from customers this week about Hurricane Irma’s pending visit, two main thoughts keep entering our mind: 1) we’ll do whatever it takes to support the catastrophic events of this month and 2) the industry is not resourced for this degree of pending calamity. The combination of two category 4+ hurricanes hitting the United States within weeks of each other (Harvey and Irma) will stretch available field resources to their limits. It’s reportedly been over 100 years since dual storms of that size hit the US within the same 30-day period.

Since the founding of Spex post Hurricane Sandy, we’ve always believed our digital inspection platform was valuable for serving catastrophes like hurricanes. In those situations, time is of the essence, carriers are eager to provide accurate reimbursements to their policyholders, field resources are scarce and network connectivity is non-existent. The Spex platform, in connection with the right human resourcing models, unlocks a “gig economy” effect whereby more field resources can be deployed better, faster and cheaper.

At its core, Spex is a workforce-enabling solution to better leverage field and desk resources. With the Spex solution in hand, the field worker can focus on excellent customer support and thorough data capture of photos, videos, forms, notes and diagrams. They can move through their protocols swiftly and efficiently and sync that data “back” to a different location, once online again, where a different person (if desired) can begin processing estimates, denial letters or other tasks involved in the claim. We’ve historically found it takes three inspections, maximum, for a field user to become comfortable with the Spex software. From there, it’s impossible to “ever go back to the old way” – if the field worker knew an “old way” previously.

We’re biased to the Spex solution, of course, but there are other new technology tools that may also have value in the weeks ahead. Drones are in-flight for exterior photos and there are other field capture apps useful for diagramming and general data capture tasks. In any case, we advise new technologies be explored with a few key criteria in mind: can the solution work offline (in the case of poor/no network connectivity) and is the solution easy to learn and use? Offline access and ease-of-use (see: limited training resources) will be imperative in the weeks ahead.

We learned of several instances at Hurricane Matthew in 2016 where less-skilled insurance adjusters were involved in handling losses outside of Charleston, South Carolina and elsewhere. A lack of experience can lead to longer cycle times (the period of time it takes to resolve a claim), higher loss adjustment expenses (extended travel costs, re-inspection of files, etc), reduced customer satisfaction scores and even lawsuits if the collected information is inaccurate.

So, if Hurricane Irma makes landfall in Florida , or nearby, later this week, the insurance and restoration industries may face a perfect storm. Most of the industry’s skilled adjusters and scopers are headed to Texas now to handle work volume from Hurricane Harvey. Who will perform inspection and scoping work for Hurricane Irma next week or later this month? How will estimates be written so policyholders and restoration contractors can be paid? Innovators and leaders in the industry want to support both events, simultaneously, in order to provide the greatest value to insurance carriers and policyholders.

Marketing taglines about “being in good hands” were coined with moments like this in mind. “We’re too busy handling other catastrophes” is not the answer a policyholder wants to hear in the midst of a life-altering claim. Now is the moment for innovators and innovative solutions, whether they be insurtech related or not, to shine. A “new normal” can emerge in times like this.

Brett Goldberg
CEO of Spex