Insurers Turn to Satellite Imagery for Damage Assessment

The vast possibilities of how insurance companies can utilize satellite imagery are only continuing to grow. The GeoQi platform unlocks the value of large amounts of geospatial imagery using deep learning and rigorous data science. GeoQi, through its state-of-the-art analytics technology, is able to provide insurers with actionable information so they can better understand the risk and extent of the damage.

The insurance industry is increasingly embracing the use of satellite imagery to boost efficiency and reduce the time it takes to assess loss, especially in cases of natural disasters. The earlier you know your exposure in a disrupted area, the better you can shift and allocate resources, get an alert of an unfolding crisis, and monitor it as it progresses. Insurers use satellite imagery to establish real-time damage assessment over a large area, without having to send out their field agents to these high-risk locations. This saves insurers time, allows them to promptly assess their risk exposure, differentiate damaged & undamaged assets, and process claims more accurately. When responsiveness matters most, having the information insurers need to empower their people to exceed customers’ expectations is paramount, and satellite technology works as an enabler to help achieve this goal.

Location intelligence becomes relevant as insurance claims are 100% location-based. GeoQI’s GIS-based insurance technology brings real-time data to the fingertips of underwriters and speeds up decision-making. The reinsurance industry is already moving in the direction of utilizing satellite imagery for loss assessment. Additionally, technological advancements coupled with a rapid expansion of satellite data and value-added services, like GIS-based analytics, have rendered satellite images to be more affordable and versatile for use across a wide range of industries, including insurance.

In the long run, satellite imagery can build a knowledge repository to reduce response rates for major flood events, whether in a particular geography or around the world. This is important in areas where no other technology could provide the speed and scale of satellite imagery.

Horry County in South Carolina was affected by Hurricane Florence in Septemeber 2018. Let’s use this area as an example of how the technology driving spatial analytics data can potentially help insurance companies monitor and manage damage assessment issues in near real-time.

Ten days after the deadly hurricane hit, the Waccamaw River in Horry County crested at a record level of 20.22 feet. This was around more than 2 feet higher than the crest during Hurricane Floyd in 1999, and more than 3 feet higher than that for Hurricane Matthew two years ago. These were long-duration events, during which storm surges caused massive flood damages to property and infrastructure.

Initial satellite imagery without parcel data – only indicating extent of damage post Hurricane Florence

Assess post disaster damage – Make quick assessment of damage following a natural disaster with before and after analysis for efficient payouts process and estimation of claims amounts.

Affected flooding area parcels mapped to identify extent of flooding

Understand Risk Exposure – Issues that are invisible to the naked eye often lead to costly claims. Leveraging spatial intelligence helps identify affected areas with accuracy and better assessment of risk.

Affected Parcels mapped with specific Property Index Numbers for pin point accuracy

Optimize resource Allocation – Assess damage and keep an eye on all insured assets remotely to minimize costly and time-consuming site visits. Also a great tool to quickly identify fraudulent claims

Availability of satellite imagery during or just after an event, allows the insurance company to assess damage and shorten the timeline to assist the property owner during a time of need. This allows Hazard Insurance Claims Management Organizations to provide accurate and timely damage reports and weed out fraudulent claims, which might occur after such events.

The collection of such data would be virtually impossible on the ground and we are fortunate to have a tremendous industry with geospatial capabilities that are able to mobilize and collect satellite imagery over thousands of square miles of affected areas. Not only does this help insurance companies with the necessary tools to make better decisions around property inspections and assessment, but also helps identify damage and crisis points during rescue and recovery operations. Insurance companies are also able to monitor temporal land use change for an enriched understanding of risk exposure using land use classification. Satellite imagery can help balance need, response time, and accuracy of a claim.

Archie Menezes | President – US Operations, GeoSpoc

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