There is an obvious distinction between Insurance and Meteorology, but they can also run parallel to each other.
I’m Alexandra Sammon, your Customer Support and Quality Assurance specialist for Weather Analytics. I worked in the insurance industry for almost 6 years while earning my degree in Meteorology, and experiencing both at the same has given me a unique perspective on the industry. I know what you are thinking, where is she going with this? I have observed that a common goal within the insurance industry is improving customer satisfaction, specifically regarding claims and closing out claims as quickly and efficiently as possible. With weather playing such a big role with insurance claims it is especially important for the industry to understand how the use of weather data can improve customer experience.
When someone submits a claim there are claims representatives that document the first notice of loss to help the customers in a first impression situation and then it gets passed to adjusters. Adjusters get recorded statements from the parties involved and make an adjust decision. Where Insurance professionals and Meteorologists coordinate with one another is when weather is calculated in the equation of a loss claim such as hail damage to a car or home, or rain/melted snow on the road causing a 3 car pile-up, etc. If weather conditions are not forecasted properly by the insurance agency then they are less likely to be able to react to the increased amount of customer calls regarding claims and will be less knowledgeable of what conditions may have occurred.
I do remember an incident where a small storm cell was passing through Pennsylvania that wasn’t considered threating, however it produced 2 inches of hail and damaged a city’s worth of cars and homes. The call center I was working in wasn’t prepared for the heavy amount of calls as a result and customers were waiting for a representative to respond for upwards of ten minutes. In the insurance environment that is unacceptable and they are always seeking opportunities to improve response times. In this incident I had a customer that was reporting hail damage in an area that was about 6 miles from the storm cell and had reported minimal damage. An adjuster denied the customer’s claim due to the loss not being located in the city area. Adjusters don’t have much time or available sources to rely on to verify claims and this loss could very well have been plausible. The customer was quite upset and didn’t accept the response and got management involved. I didn’t find out the outcome of this situation, but know that this could have been avoided and if looked into properly could have saved money and time.
With my curiosity of a meteorologist in an insurance world I asked the administrators within the insurance company about what weather resources are applied to their work load, but I couldn’t get a definite answer. It was as if I was the only one who questioned the importance of this tenuous relationship. Having this background and understanding of this relationship is how I became involved with Weather Analytics and specifically with the insurance market testing the Weather Verification Reports (WVR) tool.
Weather Verification Reports are an on-demand solution designed especially for insurance companies as an innovative new way to pre-screen and verify the integrity of weather-related property damage loss due to weather. Within seconds, a comprehensive report is returned including precise, hourly historical weather information detailing the ninety-six hour time period surrounding the reported date and time of loss. It can be presented in single or multi variable reports with variables including hail, rain, wind, freezing rain, temperature, and snow. The reports can be a simple addition to the first notice of loss process that would help clarify the weather conditions at the time of loss. For instance, a policy holder calls stating that they have damage to the exterior of their home and needs an adjuster to fully inspect their house for damage. An adjuster doesn’t have the full knowledge of weather history in the specific area and all they would do is log on to insurance.weatheranalytics.com and fill in the claim information which will allow us to provide a full report of the specific weather events that occurred in the area to determine that it is a weather damage loss for their insured. The information promptly allows the adjuster to make the correct evaluation for their insured.
With my insight into the field of insurance I’ve worked with the meteorology and technology teams on the design and optimization of these reports for insurance professionals and can see that this represents an innovative new method of verifying weather related personal and commercial lines property insurance claims. I’ve personally tested the system with a multitude of different weather variables and conditions and have evaluated the results and can say that these reports are easily digestible and provide decision-ready support of insurance professionals. This tool has been created so that it is very thorough and yet is simplified enough for anyone to understand. I am blessed that I have experienced the best of both worlds and with this I am pleased that I can correlate two different worlds into one.