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McKenzie Intelligence Services3/20/23 12:00 AM5 min read

Hail: The United States’ most underrated danger

How prepared are you to respond?  

Each year, thousands of thunderstorms form and pass across various parts of the United States, bringing with them rain, hail, and even lightning. Although the majority of significant hailstorms occur across the Midwest in the spring and early summer, large hail is possible in every state and it’s impossible to anticipate exactly when and where they will occur. As is the case across much of the Great Plains, large hail is also relatively common in the Southeast as well. 

Insurance carriers are being put under increasing pressure to be prepared to deal with the rise in demands from claimants with hail damage in the US now averaging more than $10bn per year.  With hailstorms expanding their reach and more properties being impacted each year, combined with claims inflation pushing repair totals up, I look at some of the key issues facing the industry and how geospatial intelligence linked to portfolios could be the answer. 

Firstly, I want to make a quick definition check here.  Geospatial intelligence is not data, data is an input to geospatial intelligence – single data points can’t be used to make a decision but combined with other data sources and expertise, creates geospatial intelligence, which truly has the power to drive your decision-making. 

Policyholders want their claims to be dealt with quickly. 

The challenge of meeting your customers’ expectations has always been present but each year the pressure grows for carriers, large and small alike, to do more.  Timelines of days before an adjuster visits and weeks before the cheque is received, or the work carried out are commonplace. 

Geospatial intelligence can undoubtably help here for all the reasons I’m about to come on to, but it is the decision point to a further process rather than the end.  A process where policyholders are proactively communicated to within hours and decisions automated based on pre-defined rules provides them with the speed, efficiency, and confidence that they expect from their carrier.  

Insurance carriers want to know that the damage was under their coverage. 

Fraud is a strong term to use in this scenario, sometimes people don’t inspect their roof after each hailstorm and, like a hot potato, the carrier who is left holding the risk at the end of hail season could get the call to notify of a claim regardless of which hailstorm caused the damage – this is especially true if quality underwriting inspections are lacking but that’s a topic for another day. 

Knowing that hail fell in Dallas on a certain day does not provide you with the context or confidence to pay, further investigate, or decline a claim.  Geospatial intelligence provides you with a much smaller area to give carriers much higher confidence in their decision-making.  Carrier who know where hailstorms impacted, and equally importantly, where they didn’t, will be able to quickly identify claims that require further investigation and those that they can be confident were incurred under their coverage.   

Speed is key to beat contractors. 

Nature hates a vacuum, and with the lack of information after a hailstorm, that vacuum is filled by contractors offering to survey roofs and check for damage…and often finding it.  Expertise in advising on litigation often comes alongside it, meaning a small claim can inflate massively in a heartbeat. 

Speed is a key theme so far, but speed to a claim and speed of decision-making is the single biggest thing a carrier can do to reduce claims inflation.  Utilizing geospatial intelligence to drive processes where customers are contacted before contractors move into an area, confirming the geospatial intelligence with customer images and reports, and effective deployment of resources, means that policyholder’s will already know their payment amount before their doorbell ever rings.   

I’m a big believer that the value of geospatial intelligence isn’t just to say where damage has occurred, but also where it has not.  Geospatial intelligence and an easily deployable process can provide a wellness check to clients where you know hail has been, but not at such a scale that it would cause damage. Something as small as a SMS to customers shows that their carrier knows what’s going on while also having the unquantifiable benefit of the customer feeling like they’re getting the level of service that they ultimately want. 

Hail response can be a carrier’s biggest retention and sales tools. 

An adjuster once said to me, ‘everyone in the neighborhood wants to know who the carrier was on the first house that gets their roof replaced’.  This last point builds on the challenge of my first – if a customer doesn’t get what they want from their carrier, and there’s a big billboard showing the service they could have had across the street from them, then come renewal they’ll be asking their agent to switch. 

I’ll admit that this one is tough to quantify, but those of us who work in insurance are also in the position to be policyholders.  So I’d urge you to ask yourself, if you were impacted by a major hailstorm and suffered damage and the Jefferson’s across the street had their roof replaced before yours had even been assessed, would you ask them who they insured with? 

A single source of truth for the Insurance Industry  

At MIS, we recognize that it can be difficult for insurers to get consistent data globally or decide which data source to use when understanding the impact of CAT events on their insurance books, which is why we worked closely alongside insurers to create our event response solution Global Events Observer, (GEO). 

GEO provides 24/7 global coverage of multi-peril events, including, Hurricanes, Tornados, Storms, Fire, and Flood to name a few, with our latest edition being Hail in the US. Designed to respond to modelled and non-modelled events regardless of territory, GEO delivers actionable intelligence to Exposure and Claims teams to assist them in making informed decisions to respond to CAT events more quickly and efficiently. 

If you’re looking for a way to better respond to damage caused by Hail, or other perils across the US and the globe, McKenzie Intelligence Services can support you with the following: 

  • Access exposure layers within 24 hours to respond to CAT events 
  • Triage claims and locations affected with our claims layer within 72 Hours 
  • Understand the likelihood of receiving claims (Pre-FNOL) 
  • Allocate loss adjusters and resources more effectively 
  • Increase the speed of customer recovery by processing claims quickly and accurately 
  • Improve overall customer experience  

Connect with me today to find out how we can help  

Blog Author 

Daniel Grimwood-Bird