Insurance companies are under continual pressure to attract, service, and retain quality customers in an extremely competitive market. As an insurance company underwriter, your aim is to write policies that will properly protect your policyholders while, at the same time, provide profits for your company.
A long-time staple of the P&C insurance company underwriting process has been property inspections. These inspections are used to improve your underwriting efforts by helping to determine an accurate replacement value for the subject property and to uncover any risks that could impact the worthiness of insuring a particular property and come up with a fair and equitable premium cost for the amount of coverage written.
In recent decades, insurance inspection technology has improved in a number of ways, making the property inspection process more efficient and also more cost-effective. As the underwriter, whatever you can do to lower costs and provide enhanced service to your clients helps your company perform better. Improved inspection technology makes this possible.
What’s New With Current Inspection Technology?
Twenty-first-century advancements in insurance inspection technology have caused significant changes within the property inspection industry. The advent of the Internet, smartphones, tablet computers, commercial drones, high-resolution aerial cameras, and image processing software have all made once traditional property inspections easier, quicker, more accurate, and cost-effective. New FAA regulations regarding who can fly unmanned vehicles (drones) and where they can be flown have made the use of aerial imaging much more commonplace today when handling insurance inspections or claims. Rather than climbing out onto a dangerously pitched rooftop during inclement weather to do a close-up inspection, many inspectors are now staying on the ground and letting their drones and high-resolution cameras do the work.
Camera-equipped drones can also make quick work on large properties when scanning the grounds out to the perimeter edges and beyond. The tried-and-true method of a boots-on-the-ground inspection requires more time and more effort. A high-flying drone can even go beyond property borders to collect data relating to surrounding areas and any potential risks found there.
Drones with high-res cameras are also useful for inspections in areas that are otherwise extremely difficult to access. This includes:
- Churches with tall spires or steeples
- High-rise buildings with limited access to equipment located on exterior walls
- Tall structures such as water towers or cell phone towers
- Confined spaces such as boilers, where breathing apparatus would otherwise be required for an effective interior inspection
Drone cameras can also be equipped with special lenses that allow them to see what the naked eye cannot. Examples of this are infrared cameras that can be used to image inside or outside walls of a structure in order to determine where unwanted air leaks are occurring or viewing electrical panels/outlets that may be overheating.
Additional drone uses include:
- Identifying insurance cross-selling opportunities if images from drones reveal a boat or an RV on a property. This information allows you to inquire about the potential of writing additional business for a client.
- Identifying changes to a property that have occurred over time. This allows for a comparison from year to year of a property, especially important at renewal time. Find out if anything has been added such as a new deck or building extension that could affect your current replacement cost estimate.
The Power of Mobile
Mobile smartphones are a major factor in the advancement of today’s property inspections. They can be used to take high-quality photos and videos and can be utilized with drone data collection as mentioned above. A mobile phone or tablet connected to the Internet can provide you, the insurance underwriter, with the means to “ride-along” on a property inspection in real-time to look at specific areas that your inspector may have questions about. You can get a real first-hand feel for the property being inspected.
This ability to get images and information about a home can also be used by the insured to complete a self-inspection in a short amount of time. This may be particularly useful when new features have been added to a home and a full inspection of the property is not required.
The use of computer tablets is a real game-changer in property inspections. Rather than the old paper and pen method of making notes to later be transferred to an office computer to create a report, a tablet allows inspectors to create reports on the spot, complete with photos and videos. With a mobile Internet connection, these reports can even be submitted while in the field.
What the Customer Wants
Today’s insurance customer is digitally savvy and is likely to approach the need for homeowner’s insurance with the expectation of receiving efficient service provided in an accurate, streamlined fashion. Many may initiate their insurance search online, looking for near immediate results to their specific needs, questions and concerns.
They want a variety of choices in coverage options, price transparency, and a highly satisfactory customer experience in every interaction they have with your company. Here are four specific things you can put into use in order to both attract and retain a group of happy customers who will remain loyal to your company:
- Easy Information Input – Make the gathering of information for the insurance application as quick and easy as possible. No one wants to have to provide the same information several times during the buying process. Obtaining a homeowner’s insurance quote should be quick and easy. There are programs available that can prefill information into an application by simply entering a property address. Any time saved during the application process will be appreciated by the client.
- Personalized Service – Providing each policyholder with personalized service at all points of contact such as when quoting coverage costs, underwriting the policy, renewing coverage, or when a claim is being made will further that customer’s loyalty to your company. Researching a client’s automobile insurance coverage and providing them with improved coverage at a more attractive cost through bundling is a great personal service. Finding out if they have a boat, RV, motorcycle, or ATV can further your knowledge of their lifestyle and offer more coverage opportunities.
- Properly Assessing Risk – Applying this to precise pricing of coverage will help clients obtain the best protection at the best price. Recent advancements in insurance inspection technology have made risk assessment easier and quicker to complete, making the process more cost-effective to insurers and also to the insureds.
- Providing Proactive Protection – This will go a long way toward showing them that you’re looking after their changing needs. Remember, people don’t know what they don’t know, but you can provide needed protection and security by staying aware of their changing circumstances in life. The home insurance market is a competitive one. Nearly every home owner carries homeowner’s insurance and with your superior service and attention to detail you should be able to stand head and shoulders above the competition.
- Keeping Up With Emerging Inspection Technology – This helps us at Insurance Risk Services in creating complete, accurate field inspection reports. Contact us to explore the services we have available.