We have talked in previous posts about insurers’ need to assess and model against new risks related to emerging technologies, including driverless cars, 3-D printing, cyber-crime and the Internet of Things.  While new technologies create new issues and concerns for insurers, however, they can also help insurers evaluate risk and process claims much more efficiently.

Geo-mapping is a good example of a new technology that insurers have adapted to improve claims investigating and processing.  Satellite and aerial photographs – when assembled and organized geographically – can help insurers assess damage from natural catastrophes such as wildfire, hurricanes and hailstorms.  New mapping applications can focus on a single dwelling on a specific street.  By overlaying before and after photos, the applications identify storm-related damage.  The level of detail is remarkable, with some applications able to pinpoint damage to individual roof tiles.

The benefits to insurers are clear; claims adjusters know what to expect before they inspect a property for potential damage, and would-be fraudsters are deterred from filing bogus claims.  Weather-specific mapping tracks storms, assists with customer notification and helps coordinate the dispatch of adjusters and other support personnel.

Geo-mapping is becoming increasingly important before claims are filed, in the sales and underwriting phases.  By combining mapping with data, insurers can identify how risks are clustered, whether by zip code, by state or country, or in relation to a geographic risk factor such as flood-prone river or a coastline.

Like other technological innovations, geo-mapping generates vast quantities of data.  The challenge for insurers is to organize and access the data so that it can be used to support good decision-making.  Insurers should make sure that their core systems – which may be outdated, or stitched together after a series of acquisitions – are up to the task.

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