Home insurance inspections have long been an important part of the home insurance policy underwriting process providing you, the insurance underwriter, with critical information used in your important underwriting decisions. A home insurance inspection generally has two main purposes:
- To determine the replacement cost of a property should it become destroyed by a peril covered within the insurance policy you write. Replacement cost is distinctly different than market value and includes the material and labor required to rebuild a property to the condition it was before the damage or destruction took place.
- Becoming aware of any and all risks that may be present at the property being inspected. These risks may be an indication of the suitability for your consideration in offering insurance coverage. Unmitigated risks should be frowned on as they are an indication of potential future losses and claims that will negatively affect your company’s profitability.
Utilization of Resources
In the highly competitive field of home insurance underwriting, whatever you, as a company underwriter, can do to bolster efficiency and reduce expenditures while continuing to maintain a high degree of accuracy in your risk analyses will provide you with a competitive edge. Current advancements in home insurance inspection technology can help in meeting these goals. Consider the following:
- Where home inspections were traditionally a time and labor-intensive process, often requiring multiple days to complete, modern inspection technology can now pare down time requirements to mere hours from start to finish. Less inspection time means less expense.
- Significant data has been created and is available in this modern age of the internet regarding individual properties as well as neighborhoods and beyond. This is made possible through the use of aerial imagery provided by high-resolution cameras on overhead satellites. Nearby potential hazards can be identified before even setting foot on a property. This remote sensing inspection technology gives you the ability to understand property characteristics and to detect property changes occurring since the last inspection was completed. You may also assess property liability risks and estimate damages when a claim is being made.
Digital Mobile Data Gathering
Unquestionably, the most significant items of current insurance inspection technology are the various digital mobile gathering items available, including smartphones, laptop computers, and computer tablets. These communication devices are great time and resource savers, allowing property inspectors to be quicker and more accurate with their work and capable of presenting you, their client, with a comprehensive inspection report right from the field.
Not too many years ago, home inspection reports were mostly handwritten with pencil and paper on a clipboard. Today, very few are produced that way. These old ways of creating property inspection reports have given way to digital equipment like smartphones and computer tablets running home inspection software. This current property inspection technology allows inspectors to be mobile, with the tools they need for writing property inspection reports in the palm of their hands. There’s no longer a need to take paper and pencil notes on a clipboard, later to be transcribed back at the office into a final report. Thanks to the internet and hand-held digital devices, things are made easier, quicker, and more accurate.
Home Inspection Activity
The process of home inspections hasn’t really changed all that much, it’s the inspection technology that’s made such a big difference. Inspectors still start at the front door and proceed through a home from room to room checking hundreds of various components along the way.
What has changed is how the data is gathered and reported. Again, this is made possible through the use of digital devices and the internet. Photographs can now easily be taken where once photos were rarely found in home inspection reports. Today’s high-quality smartphones, which are so appropriately used in conjunction with home inspection software, are also capable of taking high-resolution photographs of a quality that rivals standard digital cameras.
Smart Phones Are a Real Game Changer
Smartphones have become indispensable pieces of equipment for home inspectors as they’re being used not only as basic communication devices but also as notepads, cameras, and report writing tools. These incredible data gathering devices pack the power of a computer into a small hand-held device that can easily be carried in your pocket, giving inspectors the ability to do their inspections virtually hands-free. Here are just some of the uses for smartphones in the field:
- Using a mobile version of one of the available report writing software apps totally eliminates the time-consuming need to make paper and pencil notes during an inspection.
- Take photos during an inspection while on the move and put them quickly and easily into a report.
- Connecting to the internet and live-streaming during an inspection walk-through, your inspector can take you along virtually, allowing for immediate feedback on any questionable areas of concern.
- An inspection can be compiled and forwarded to you, the underwriter, while your inspector is still on-site at the property being inspected. This saves time and resources.
- Coupling a smartphone with a UAV (drone) gives inspectors a quick, easy way to view a large property out to and beyond the property boundaries. This enables them to observe surrounding area hazards. Drones with smartphones can also be used to view rooftop areas without the need to physically get out on the roof, which can be dangerous.
- Voice recognition software enables smartphones to be used as dictaphones, where inspectors can dictate notes into a developing inspection report while in the field.
- An internet connection is not required to be able to use a smartphone as a data collection device in the field.
- Where self-inspections are appropriate for any of your insurance policyholders, smartphones allow them to take photos and submit inspection reports to you online.
- Where certain inspection areas are difficult to access, such as communication towers, exterior areas on high-rise buildings, or properties with steep rooftops such as church steeples, smartphones installed on UAVs (drones) make inspections easier and safer than other methods.
Finalizing the Report
While some inspectors may opt for taking the data collected on their smartphones during a property inspection and transferring the information to a larger device with a bigger screen and keyboard (such as a laptop), others may choose to finalize and send off their reports right from their smartphones. Modern technology makes what used to be a time-consuming and somewhat difficult job quicker, easier, and more accurate.
Insurance Risk Services (IRS) is a high-quality inspection company that’s remained on the cutting edge of property inspection technology for 35+ years, partnering with property and casualty insurance companies nationwide and providing them with a full range of insurance inspection services and field underwriting support. Contact IRS to learn about the personalized service available to you as a solution to your ongoing underwriting needs.