California Wildfires Increase Strain on Insurance Claims Departments

Posted on Aug 9 2018
Type Blog

California is on track to have one of worst wildfire seasons in its recorded history this year. This is no small measure considering 2017 was a record year for fires. Statewide wildfire claims in October and December of 2017 alone totaled almost 45,000 and represented $12 billion in losses, according to the state, making it the costliest fire in California’s history. Now more than ever, carriers must ensure their claims department is equipped to efficiently handle the influx of wildfire claims.

Outside forces including longer droughts, hotter weather, and dried out vegetation suggest these catastrophic events aren’t likely to subside in the years ahead. And yet, the onus is on carriers to ensure that claims are not only paid in a timely manner, but also expedited for insureds who have lost their homes to a fire cat event.

Prefill mitigates data inaccuracy, improves efficiencies

Carriers field thousands of claims following a natural disaster or large-scale event. And in the case of a wildfire, insureds are oftentimes preoccupied with other concerns, including relocating, communicating with loved ones, and rebuilding their property. During this time, however, it’s particularly important for carriers to get the most accurate data possible to pay out claims as fast as is feasible. Instead of relying on homeowner-supplied information, carriers can leverage BuildFax to prefill certain form fields with accurate estimates for roof age and other major system that consider existing condition and recent maintenance.

Enhanced data visibility alleviates claims fraud

Especially with the inpouring of claims after a large-scale cat event like a wildfire, claims fraud occurrences increase. Carriers estimate that 10 percent of property and casualty losses are related to fraud, according to the Insurance Information Institute. BuildFax provides insights that align each claim with remodel activity for that structure, enabling carriers to retroactively review paid claims to substantiate project completion. And even after structures have been remodeled, carriers can leverage granular contractor information to support subrogation efforts.

Timely insights enable carriers to triage claims faster

Once claims surpass certain internal thresholds, it’s near impossible to respond to each one individually. This extends to calculating replacement costs for thousands of properties following a severe weather event. Carriers can save valuable time and money by streamlining the claims process with near real-time data on a property’s condition prior to its exposure to a wildfire. With this additional information, the claims department can calculate replacement costs at scale.

BuildFax – the leading source of information on P/C insurance risk with more than 23 billion data points on residential and commercial structures – empowers your claims department to stay on the pulse of new construction, remodels, property maintenance history, roof age, system updates, and more with detailed, verified property-level data. Trusted by the largest insurance carriers in the world, we’ve developed actionable, value-driving insights that can be seamlessly integrated within the claims cycle.

For more information on how BuildFax’s insights can support your claims department’s cat needs, contact us today.

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