Since 2011, the British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA) conference has been increasingly associated with social media. It’s been a fascinating ride, watching our industry acknowledge, then accept and ultimately embrace, online communication networks to the extent that many are now seen as offering a glimpse at “the answer” to a huge variety of intractable problems.
Recently, marketing website the Drum published an infographic revealing social media’s impact on natural disasters, showing how in just a few short years they have evolved into “hubs for recovery.” For example, it showed how Facebook pages set up after the 2013 Illinois tornadoes dedicated to lost and found items quickly generated 14,000 likes, while YouTube had almost 5,500 unique videos capturing news and information about the storm within 48 hours of Oklahoma City’s devastating twister last year.
Elsewhere, private companies are taking advantage of convergent technologies such as geolocation and video blogging hosting services like YouTube to present compelling pictures of a post-catastrophe scenario. Here, the ESRI Disaster Response Programme has used open source data from the environment agency and other organizations to create a U.K. Flooding Social Media Map.
These are clearly just the tip of the iceberg in terms of developments that show how technology could support our industry. The question is, how can these applications be deployed in a business context? Here at Crawford & Company, we frequently take our inspiration from adjusters on the ground, who experience claims first hand and know what technology, deployed in the right way, could do for them and our customers.
The company is currently piloting a range of new proprietary applications including tools which we hope can deliver an increasingly accurate pre- and post-loss picture for adjusters. This is particularly useful when assessing wide area damage after catastrophe events or where devastation is simply too severe for a clear picture to be created. How many times have we seen a before and after shot depicting a narrow view that really tells us very little about the full and true extent of a loss? What is going on outside the frame of that photograph? As technology develops and open source data becomes more accessible, we will see convergent technology bringing adjusters in touch with sources that they can access on mobile platforms, enabling faster response, more accurate reserving and swifter settlement.
Similarly, voice recognition and dictation solutions are revolutionizing the way our adjusters write and produce reports. If a customer demands a response after half an hour and a report emailed to their inbox, why not deliver them what they want? These systems are just around the corner and I for one am excited about the prospect. When I look back at the industry I joined as a trainee and recall the rolls of film I delivered to the one hour photo booth, I cannot help but be reminded how much more productive we have become with the help of technology. When deployed for the right reasons and with a solid business case, it can represent the difference between waiting for the developing fluid to do its work or getting back on the road to the next customer.
Clive Nicholls, Senior Vice President, Global Markets, Crawford & Company