Technology growth hasn’t always been a priority in the insurance industry. “We’re a slow industry to adopt things sometimes, I dare say,” said Don Griffin, vice president of personal lines for the American Property Casualty Insurance Association.
The industry has embraced catastrophe modeling for predicting the severity of events and for claims handling. Use of the technology was increasing before the pandemic, but it accelerated during quarantines for claims handling, experts say. This modeling gives agents an idea of how strong damage was at a location, said Tom Larsen, principal of industry solutions at CoreLogic. “Weather forensics” determine what happened at a specific location rather than half a mile away.
“The influence of [COVID-19] has been to accelerate this technology, which was sort of moving like a glacier,” Larsen said. Using catastrophe modeling for claims is better for policyholders because insurers can handle claims more efficiently and at a lower cost, getting money to clients faster, he said.
Because insurers don’t interact with policyholders often, they can differentiate themselves from other companies by how they respond to customers at times of need, Larsen said.
Karen Clark, CEO and co-founder of catastrophe modeling firm Karen Clark & Co., said catastrophe models can be used for projecting average claim severity in the two days before a hurricane makes landfall. Her company’s data, which insurers use for planning, shows damage by zip code and updates twice per day. After a catastrophe, insurers need extra adjusters, so planning for the severity of claims can help them decide where to put them, she added.