According to a recently published white paper, insurance carriers can best deal with natural disasters by leveraging an on-demand model that gives them immediate access to an affordable and scalable workforce. By using workers in the field only when they need them, carriers can control costs while quickly and effectively meeting the needs of policyholders.
Natural Disasters Are Getting Stronger and More Frequent
ClimateWise, a coalition of the world’s largest insurance carriers, has reported that since the 1950s the frequency of weather-related catastrophes has increased six-fold. Not only have more than 20 storms causing a billion dollars or more in damage taken place since 2010, seven have hit since 2016. All of these storms have kept carriers busy assessing damage and processing claims.
Days after Hurricane Irma made landfall in 2017, more than 335,000 claims had been submitted in Florida totaling $1.9 million. That’s according to Florida’s Office of Insurance Regulation. However, the storm is predicted to eventually cost close to $100 billion.
Nearly 88% of these initial claims were made by residential property owners. And, more than 10,000 business owners have reported damages from the storm. If the predictions are accurate, the damage from the 2017 hurricane season would more than double the costliest season on record in 2005. That was when Katrina and three other storms caused more than $143 billion in damage.
And it’s not just hurricanes that are keeping carriers busy.
During the first half of 2017, 49 weather-related disasters hit a wide range of locations across the U.S., including ferocious tornadoes and damaging hailstorms. And, most recently, devastating wildfire outbreaks in Northern California destroyed thousands of structures and caused more than a billion dollars in damage to the world-famous wine region.
Carriers Face Workforce Challenges
One of the major challenges that carriers face during times of catastrophe is how to deploy enough workers to the field to assess damage associated with claims that arise. Traditionally, carriers have understood the value of inspecting assets in-person in the field. However, maintaining an infrastructure capable of quickly completing these inspections in any location across the country has become cost prohibitive for most carriers.
It’s not that carriers are understaffed. It’s just that carriers’ workforces are spread too thin in times of crisis. As we saw in Florida during and after Hurricane Irma, many of the state’s adjusters were on the front line still working on claims made after Hurricane Harvey hit Texas.
A Scalable Workforce is Accessible
Carriers are operating in a cost-sensitive and hyper-responsive market. Even the most sophisticated and progressive carriers often find themselves struggling to effectively deal with scalability issues relating to managing a local, regional, or national adjuster workforce.
Thankfully, natural disasters don’t occur every day.
So, how do carriers manage their workforce to handle the surging need for workers after a disaster strikes as well as the lulls that follow? If they hire more full-time or part-time workers, carriers are in the position of laying them off when the disaster is over. This hiring and layoff cycle represents a huge challenge to HR departments. That’s because there is a significant administrative cost associated with recruiting, hiring, and onboarding new employees.
See also: Harvey: First Big Test for Insurtech
What carriers need is a geographically-scalable workforce that is adaptable to regional nuances. This scalable workforce is made up of gig workers, also called on-demand workers.
A variety of breakthrough technologies and workforce alternatives are inspiring a fundamental transformation of the insurance industry. How well carriers interact with policyholders and gather information in the field will depend on how effectively the industry begins to take full advantage of the on-demand workforce to increase efficiency while lowering costs.
The key to responding to natural disasters – and keeping policyholders happy – is to rely upon an on-demand model. This model is capable of supplying an affordable workforce that can be scaled up or scaled down at a moment’s notice.