The Key Technologies That Transformed Insurers’ Catastrophe Response Post-Hurricane Andrew

Geocoding, modeling, digitization, modern claims systems and dashboards are among the technologies that are helping insurers do a much better job of catastrophe forecasting, planning and response, 20 years after Hurricane Andrew caused more than $26 billion in damage.
August 24, 2012


Geospatial Technologies Enable Fact-Based Planning

By Karen Pauli (at right), Research Director, CEB TowerGroup (Boston, Mass.)

Hurricane Andrew (with some not so gentle reminders along the way) taught insurers about fact-based planning. Pre-event, during the event, and post-event planning are now imperative. While there are a number of technologies that facilitate planning and catastrophe management, geospatial technologies get my vote for most important. Understanding the precise location of insured properties in relation to catastrophe exposures permits insurers to pre-plan for multiple types of responses. Having the right claims-adjusting skills on staff, as well as third-party providers, is driven by the types of insured exposures that could suffer loss. This is particularly important for multi-line insurers that need specific skills for dwelling losses and other skills for commercial lines. Finitely understanding the location of each insured property is critical.

Geospatial technology also permits insurers to adjust response plans as a catastrophic event evolves. This allows insurers to adjust response teams appropriately. The recent rash of wildfires certainly supports this. Fires randomly change direction and knowing the location of insured properties makes an enormous difference in response.

Post-event, geospatial technology coupled with satellite and drone technology has really changed the game. Because law enforcement keeps non-essential personnel away from catastrophe-impacted areas for significant periods of time, loss adjusting is constrained. However, leading insurers are viewing specific insured locations (because they are geocoded), assessing damage, and have payments in process before anyone has seen the location from street level. This completely ups claims service and customer response to whole new – and good – levels.

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