Blog: Covid 19 and disaster response

April 23, 2020 14:00

About Us, New Features, Tech

Providing world class claims service and disaster relief work during lockdown

This year’s storm season has already been predicted as being unusually active, with some forecasts predicting 25% more hurricanes and storms than an average year.

COVID-19 restrictions are likely to significantly hamper on the ground response following a disaster, and in this blog we explore the practical implications of delivering natural catastrophe exposure management reporting and claims response at this unique time.

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Restrictions on the movement and gathering of people, and already stretched emergency response units dealing with a pandemic are likely to result in a delay on the ground in damage control, coordination, incident management and the arrival of on site assessment and aid following a disaster. As Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves noted following a particularly violent tornado outbreak across the Southern US this month;

“The fact that the coronavirus exists is complicating the recovery from the tornado, while the tornadoes are complicating our efforts to make sure that we do everything in our power to stop the spread of the virus.”

Satellite and aerial imagery, ground sensing data and remote assessment via imagery assessment, AI and other machine learning algorithms will all become increasingly vital as restrictions are enforced around the world.

We have worked with human terrain data tracking infectious diseases such as Cholera in Iraq (2008), Ebola in Sierra Leone (2014) and Democratic Republic of Congo (2018) and Diphtheria in Haiti + Puerto Rico (2016), and in our experience of disaster response from both a humanitarian and insurance viewpoint, being able to direct vital resources efficiently remotely is paramount to an effective early response.

Following Hurricane Dorian last year, for example, the island of Abaco was closed to air and sea arrivals for several days amidst fears of a cholera outbreak, limiting access from the loss adjusting community. Using satellite and aerial imagery and expert interpretation and analysis, we were able to begin the claims process for the Lloyd’s market, their TPAs and most importantly, their policyholders long before it was safe to make an assessment from the ground.

At times like these, finding novel and innovative solutions will be critical for policyholder recovery and the insurance industry.

Policyholders will be facing difficult circumstances in this new COVID-19 reality. Suffice to say, the impact of a natural disaster will amplify that significantly as well as attract external interest from governments and the media. This is likely to create a situation where the support of the insurance industry - mainly claims - will be both more important, but also more scrutinised than before. Just this week, news of litigation against UK insurers for non payment of claims is hitting the headlines.

The quality of satellite imagery and cost effective aerial imagery is improving constantly. This provides overall greater accuracy and responsiveness, which combined with the advantage of being able to rapidly process large scale events in a highly cost effective manner, presents these tools as a winning combination for the market and for policyholders. Utilising fast, effective and pinpoint accurate remote assessment from imagery as well as on the ground data will deliver differentiating customer service, as well as operational efficiency since on the ground adjusting will be reduced.

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Development in mapping (GIS) software, data analytics and visualisation tools are also drastically improving how exposure managers and claims teams can easily visualise loss, and most importantly extract and use the data in their processes to help improve decision making and reserving strategies.

A cultural shift within the industry began in earnest over the last few years as technology became firmly embedded in catastrophe response workflows, and we have watched as the market has responded proactively since the start of the pandemic in supporting remote working and keeping policyholder service at the forefront. As hurricane season approaches, we urge readers to keep up the momentum and continue to innovate!

How can geospatial intelligence help assess the economic impact of Covid-19?

Geospatial intelligence work carried out by seasoned professionals, assisted by artifical intelligence and machine learning, can be conducted on a global scale to answer time critical insurance requirements and help assess the economic impact of any event, including COVID-19.

Accurate collection and timely dissemination of intelligence is vital at a time when uncertainty is rife and data sources are numerous and disparate.

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And far beyond imagery and remote assessment at individual sites, intelligence gathering has led to an already huge and rich dataset being available to support claims decision making. At US County level, we have meticulously collected data on both social and economic / business restrictions, event cancellations and interruption to supply chains, transport and logistics, which can all be overlaid with data mapping from the spread of the virus. Visualising and understanding these data sets and how they affect at policy level, as well as regionally and nationally, will help to assess the economic impact early and effectively. It’s going live next week so watch this space!

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Published on April 23, 2020 14:00

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