Virtual Reality: the Future of E-Learning

Photo credit: Christopher Ames via

Evolution of Desktop Adjusting Continues  

Imagine tackling a flood claim from the comfort and safety of your workplace. Or turning on your computer and accessing all the tools and information needed to process a house fire claim without setting foot in the burned-down structure. This could be tackled any time you choose—whether processing the claim at 7 a.m. on a Tuesday or 11 p.m. on a Saturday. Sounds cost-effective, efficient and perhaps unrealistic?

Doug Dell

Doug Dell

Douglas F. Dell, Crawford & Company® vice president of Crawford Educational Services, predicts that training adjusters through virtual reality will become commonplace in the coming years but today, the marketplace isn’t quite ready. Dell recently presented, “The Future of E-Learning was Mobile. . . Now It’s Virtual Reality,” during the Aug. 14 sixth annual Chief Learning Officer Exchange in Chicago and separately at the TalentQuest Talk in Atlanta.

His program suggested that e-learning, which has been used for 20-plus years, has been successful when doled out through nugget-sized sessions. Although e-learning is efficient, today’s learners can benefit even more through 3D modeling and immersive virtual reality. Dell’s presentation helped participants, which included training executives from Cigna, State Farm and Swiss Re., gain insights into implementing such innovation through technology that is ahead of the curve while demonstrating how virtual reality could help improve the bottom line.

“Right now, virtual reality as it relates to insurance training is in its infancy, but imagine the possibilities it will create for the learning environment, especially with Millennial and Gen Y and Z employees who are comfortable with gaming and immersive, mission-based challenges,” Dell said.

Photo credit: Christopher Ames via

Photo credit: Christopher Ames via

Companies in the insurance sector have traditionally trained adjusters by site visiting a home that was purposely burned by a local fire department to train their firefighters on how to put a fire out; then securing the environment for adjuster training purposes. This type of learning is expensive because a company has to own/rent and maintain the home and also pay travel costs to train adjusters. Also, to maintain a market-representative environment, often materials must be upgraded. Examples include wood to laminate flooring or Formica to granite countertops, and re-damaging them. Traditional methods of teaching also have limitations because the model—the burnt house in this instance—is a single-access session, and the learning is based solely on what you see, is what you get.

Now fast forward and imagine using virtual reality to create a wider variety of damage situations that enable adjusters to learn, explore and experience a structure fire on their computers or mobile devices.  “You can layer in defects,” said Dell. “For instance, a structure fire leaves telltale signs of fire damage. But what about water damage left by firefighters and vandalism that often occurs when a structure is tenant-free?”

Safety is another paramount concern because sending adjusters to claim sites is sometimes perilous: steep rooftops sustaining hail damage or flooded homes filled with live wires, snakes or mold.

“Many claims environments are dangerous, especially for less-seasoned adjusters,” Dell said. “Virtual reality would allow an adjuster to safely assess damage with standard tools that include digital images, measurements, chalked test squares and even a Maglite.”

The good and bad of virtual reality

Just like any other method of adjuster training, virtual reality has its pros and cons.

Pros include:

  • inspecting, scoping, evaluating and estimating a property loss at your own speed
  • providing standard tools used in the field, such as a light, measuring tape and magnification
  • re-purposing existing materials, such as images, rubrics and lesson plans, in a single scenario
  • reinforcing proper techniques through an accompanying video of instructor scoping and documenting the same loss in Xactware
  • designing a scalable production model to build field-based scenarios

Cons include:

  • little familiarity with gaming navigation and the resulting learning curve
  • some more-seasoned adjusters (non-millennials) dislike and find it difficult to use
  • missing the nature of a real environment like smells and textures

“Its adoption may be a few years away, but learning through virtual reality is on the horizon and will be part of our program,” Dell said.

Read more about virtual reality and the insurance industry.

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