The largest insurer in Texas is using video calls to keep their distance during the pandemic and get on a mountain of claims.
The damage is real, but many of the adjustments have become virtual.
The state is slowly recovering from what the Insurance Council of Texas expects for the most expensive weather event ever for Texas insurers.
RELATED: After the Storm: Is Your Home Underinsured?
State Farm gave the WFAA an overview of their remote assessment. The company says it can process more claims faster by going virtual – important in a pandemic, but also if claims continue to come in.
In one demonstration, Bruce Wood used his cell phone to guide Vivian Jefferson-Fields, a State Farm worker, through the damage to his home in College Station.
Jefferson-Fields was able to instruct Wood to focus on certain aspects.
“Can you come a little closer so I can get an idea of this repair?”
“Do you have any damage to these baseboards?”
“Ok, let me see that I can see it pull away from the wall.”
She was also able to take clear photos using the video stream from Wood’s phone, and at one point she was even able to add a flash to brighten up a photo taken by his phone.
The entire scene was documented photographically using this method, then Jefferson-Fields obtained a measure of the space by asking Wood for anatomical information.
“Can you give me your shoe size, please, sir,” she asked, letting him walk from one end of the room to the other.
Jefferson-Fields said she could assess the damage as easily as possible that way when she was out in the field.
Wood had cracked pipes and lots of water in his house. After a quick video chat tour, Jefferson-Fields said she could get an estimate for his claim in an hour without waiting for the company’s sales representative to show up.
Wood was impressed with the virtual experience.
“I am extremely amazed at the technology,” he said. “It’s just fantastic and gives you a quicker response because there are only so many field reps to get you out of here.”
State Farm does this because of the need for distance during the pandemic and because of the large number of Texans with damage.
Just for this storm, only this one insurance company has already received 34,300 claims. According to State Farm, most of these are due to broken pipes. In perspective, State Farm had about 3,800 broken pipe damage for the entire past year – nationwide -.
If you’re with another insurer and prefer this aloof approach, ask them if they have a similar program.
For the uninsured and underinsured, even FEMA is trying to conduct remote assessments. Click here for more information and details on how to apply for FEMA Disaster Assistance.