Are you still carrying around a clipboard, a camera and a folding map? Probably not all of them, but many insurance inspectors are not big users of digital insurtech. We will call them legacy inspectors.
On the other hand, an inspector who purposefully uses tech to do their inspections is a digital inspector. What is the pro/con of being a digital insurance inspector? It all comes down to being the most efficient, accurate and profitable. It is not just about the equipment, it is about mindset.
Let’s take a look at doing a digital inspection on a typical main-street type commercial risk in Anytown, USA.
These are ten signs that you are a digital inspector:
1. You Research New Tools
First, you need to know about the best digital tools. There is always something coming out and these following sources really cut through the insuretech scene where most of the leading edge tools and processes are coming from.
2. You Don’t Use a Measuring Wheel
Google Earth is a faster and more accurate, first-pass measuring tool. This is especially true in rain, snow and when the dog is chasing you! Bonus here is that you become familiar with the risk before you arrive. Do spot checks of measurements with your measuring wheel or laser measure.
Let’s say the building is 50’ x 100’. You could probably walk it with your wheel and make notes on a clipboard in about 2-3 minutes. Add more time for lots of bump-outs and irregularities.
With Google Earth you can take about 20 seconds and be done. Add 20 more seconds and you can measure the parking lot, get distance to exposures and measure outbuildings.
When you are on site, double check for new additions or modifications.
If you have to do a diagram, do one in your office, based on this information. Edit later.
Another Great Website: EagleView
3. Virtual Pre-Visits
Speaking of Google Earth, your next step is getting to Street View. A digital inspector, “drives” to the risk before they do anything else.
The best things to focus on there are sidewalk conditions, building construction, trees, unusual exposures, fire hydrants and just general information.
Of course, you can fill in all this information on your survey form as you go along.
Great Website: Hazard Hub
4. You Have Mobile Super Powers
You cannot be a digital inspector if you are not using a smartphone or a tablet in the field.
Lose the clipboard and the camera. Use software that automatically labels, organizes and uploads images and defects to your report.
Even if you do not like to fill out forms when in the field, there is huge time savings in capturing, labeling and inserting images into a report automatically.
If you are like most traditional inspectors, you may be out on the road for 3 days in a row…catching the best weather. You write up on the rainy days!
However, when you sit down to put together your 45 reports, you have more than 900 images to upload and label and 150 recommendations to make. That is several hours of work right there.
Take all your notes with photos. In the time it takes to write a note on the clipboard, you can have 5 photos taken. Photos are proof. No need to write down the name of the extinguishing servicing company, take a photo of the tag. Upload your photos and delete those that you do not need later. There are never too many photos!
5. Public Data
Public data is everywhere and growing all the time. Zillow, Loopnet and county databases are super helpful. Companies like e2Value leverage that public data into instant valuations and confirm metrics about the property. Check out PlankRe, they might not be available to the solo inspector, but they do show us the direction that Insuretech is going with web scraping and artificial intelligence.
Great Website: e2Value
Great Website: PlanckRe
6. Great Apps
What are your favorite apps that make you more effective? One I just started using is Dog Scanner. With an image, it lists out the “breeds” of the dog. Not truly a loss control tool, but absolutely a cool little app!
7. Interview Notes
The digital inspector is pro-active in gathering information. They do the interview on the phone whenever possible. You have to call to make the appointment, ask your contact for a few minutes for questions. At least get the basics out of the way.
You can enter in the responses as you get the answers and you are further along with getting your report complete.
On site, use a note taking tool to handwrite notes and make sketches as needed.
8. Review The Website
A digital inspector would NEVER go to an inspection without Googling the risk. Business or home, Google it. Your order may say X,Y & Z about a risk, check out what is on the web too. Do not let the underwriter point out that you did not address the spray painting operation the insured has in the back barn, which the underwriter read about on the website!
9. Map It and Expense It
Today, maps are digital and GPS is a baseline requirement. Everyone has their favorite flavor. A digital inspector will use a dedicated GPS unit and supplement with a phone-based unit as needed.
Depending on your knowledge of your territory, you best routing tool may be your brain, but there is lots of software that will let you import your address list and set your route.
Probably the biggest time saver for the digital rep is mileage tracking and expenses.
10. Speech to Text
Once a digital inspector is complete on site and back to their vehicle, they take 3 minutes to dictate notes. This can usually be the narrative summary for the report. Speaking is so much faster than most can type in the field. Those 3 minutes also allow you to capture little items you may want to follow up on.
Digital or Legacy?
So, are you going to get the best product from the digital or the legacy inspector? Is the digital inspector faster or slower? Who uncovers the most information? You be the judge.