Quicker, safer property claims—and satisfied homeowners—with aerial imagery

Aerial imagery helps put the customer first and saves insurers money, while improving safety at the loss location

“I am a Fort McMurray success story,” said Walter Bateman. Bateman’s home was completely destroyed in the May 2016 wildfire that ripped through the northeastern Alberta community.

Like many others in the region, Bateman filed a homeowner’s insurance claim. His was finalized on May 28, well before he could even return to Fort McMurray. By mid-June, he had his settlement cheque.

“Aerial imagery made settling my claim easy,” Bateman said. “You could see very clearly all the different aspects of my home before the fire: the dimensions, the pitches and angles, all the finishes, my big deck, my fire pit, everything. As a result, we were able to settle quickly.”

Bateman’s total loss claim was settled quickly and efficiently through the use of Pictometry® aerial imagery from EagleView®.

EagleView has flown over all 50 states and captured greater than 90% of the homes in the U.S. as well as major centres in Canada.

Using patented specialized camera rigs, EagleView captures imagery from an orthogonal (top down) perspective and from four oblique angles pointing north, south, east, and west. Users can interact with high-resolution Pictometry imagery to measure and extract data because each pixel is georeferenced.

The aerial images provide a 360-degree view of each property and parcel, which is especially of use to government agencies and insurance companies.

EagleView also supplies property measurement reports to roofing contractors as well as the insurance industry. The reports include Pictometry aerial images and 3D diagrams as well as precise measurements for the roof’s length, area, pitch, and other attributes.

With an EagleView report on a laptop, a property appraiser can go to the loss location and from a ladder visually verify the damages.

“The accuracy of the roof and wall dimensions in the EagleView reports is impressive,” said Rory Thain, National Property Claims Manager at Economical Insurance. “They are also able to provide windows and doors sizes in their reports, which helps facilitate a faster estimate turnaround time.”

Erik Martensson, Property Appraisal Team Leader at Economical, explained that the reports greatly speed up the claims process.

“When we arrive at the loss site, whether it’s for hail or wind damage, we already have the roof measurements in hand,” said Martensson. “We can focus on assessing the roof damage, rather than spending great amounts of time measuring, which speeds up the completion of the building estimate.”

Aerial imagery in property damage claim settlements also enhances workplace safety. Insurance adjusters no longer have to climb up onto damaged roofs and risk life and limb using a measuring tape to calculate dimensions of the loss.

“It’s a lot safer because we don’t need to physically climb up onto the roof,” Martensson explained. “All we have to do is visually confirm the loss damages and then get on with writing up the estimate using the roof data in the EagleView report.”

“It’s gratifying to be involved in a business that benefits the homeowner who has suffered a loss and does so much to enhance the safety of those working on the loss site,” said Hugh West, Director of Insurance Sales at EagleView.

Thain said the accuracy of EagleView reports helps the process move along faster and keeps the insured parties satisfied.

“Accurate reports make for accurate estimates,” said Thain. “Our appraisers can see more sites in a day. At a CAT site, for example, instead of living out of a hotel for six weeks with rental vehicles and other associated expenses, they can do what they have to get done in two.

“For the customer, their claim is opened and closed faster, which drives customer satisfaction higher. In short order, they’ve got an estimate and a cheque in their hand to fix the damage.”

Michael Duffy and his family lost their home and all their possessions in Fort McMurray wildfire.

“We were really impressed with how our claim was handled,” said Duffy. “We didn’t have to jump through any hoops, and we came to an agreement quickly.

“Our house was completely destroyed on May 3. Our claim was opened two days later.

Because there was aerial imagery of our property before the fire, it was all settled by June 15. We moved into our new house in November. We are happy with where we landed with the house and the contents. I even have money left over for landscaping, which we’re very happy about.”

*This is a contributor article by Economical Insurance.
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