Episode 083 — The Digital Broker Podcast

Weather Damage: How To Help The Insured Before and After


On this episode of The Digital Broker, Ryan Deeds and Demetrius Gray talk about preparing an insurance agency to handle weather-related claims. By listening to this episode, you will learn:

  • How insurance agencies typically react to weather-related claims.
  • What insurance agencies could do to handle weather-related claims more proactively.
  • How Demetrius’s company, WeatherCheck, helps insurance agencies assess exposure to weather damage, alert the insured before disaster strikes, advise the insured afterward, and generally write better business.

What comes to mind when you think about an agency “delivering value?”

You might think about an agency that handles a claim promptly. A man walks out of his house one day and finds that hail has shredded the roof of his car. He files a claim with his insurance agency and gets the payout he needs to repair the car. So far, so good—but as a previous guest has pointed out, it is better when a claim doesn’t have to be filed. The man would have been happier if the roof of his car hadn’t suffered damage at all. Could he have done anything to prevent it? Could the agency have helped him with it?

As we find out on this week’s episode of The Digital Broker, the answer is yes. Ryan talks to Demetrius Gray, founder and CEO of WeatherCheck, a web-based application that monitors property in real-time, calculates exposure to weather damage, and advises the insured and the agency accordingly. The goal is to help agencies predict the insured’s likelihood of being hit by weather damage and ascertain when the damage has actually begun.

To do this, WeatherCheck needs to connect with the agency’s book of business—not the whole thing, only the addresses of the insured properties. Then, by utilizing weather data, predictive analytics, and the expertise of an in-house team of meteorologists, WeatherCheck calculates the area’s exposure to various types of weather damage, past and present. Having an idea of the risk ahead of time allows the agency to notify the insured and recommend safety precautions. If our friend at the beginning of this story were insured with an agency that uses WeatherCheck, he might have received a text message the previous day warning him of upcoming hail and recommending that he park his car indoors the next day.

This, alone, transforms an agency’s value proposition, from reactive to proactive. Imagine having a choice between an agency that merely promises to help you after disaster strikes and an agency that vows to leverage every tool at its disposal to decrease your exposure to disaster before it happens. Which are you likely to go with?

When preventive measures cannot be taken, and the disaster must simply be, well, weathered, there is still enormous value in knowing exactly when the damage hits. It allows the insured to initiate the claims process right away. According to Demetrius, up to 30% of weather-related claims bear an inaccurate date of loss. The sooner you can file a claim, the sooner you can get the insured the help they need—and the sooner you can keep existing damage from becoming worse. This saves money on payouts while also helping the insured. Demetrius has configured WeatherCheck to supply information about the best ways to deal with weather-related damage: which repairs to focus on, how to negotiate with contractors, etc.

WeatherCheck also delivers insights that help agencies be more strategic when writing business. As Demetrius explains, “We look at the book of business to determine how you’re writing business in areas that we know to be high-risk for a wind event, a hail event, a hurricane event, etc. You might want to write additional business in areas that are less likely to be impacted, to balance out your book. We help you do that.”

When Demetrius was a storm contractor, he saw firsthand how inadequately many agencies would deal with weather-related claims. These are usually the times when the insured are at their most vulnerable, having lost their houses or other property. It is not comforting to be in that situation and hear radio silence from your insurance agency. So Demetrius got to work on founding WeatherCheck, to help agencies handle weather-related claims more responsibly but also to help insureds deal with weather damage or avoid it altogether. He must have been on to something because the reaction has been superb. Only two years after its inception, WeatherCheck has racked up award after award and works with almost a hundred agencies and counting. The software specializes in hail, but additional “perils” are on its radar, e.g. lightning, floods, snow and ice, etc.

Having grown up in Louisville, Kentucky, an area with some of the most volatile weather in the country (and also the headquarters of WeatherCheck), Demetrius has had to become an expert on weather damage practically by necessity. But as he points out, weather damage is not exclusive to any one region. “Every area is a weather-prone area,” he reminds us. Wildfires terrify the West Coast while blizzards petrify the East, and everything in-between. You never know when the weather is gonna strike. Actually, you do know when the weather is gonna strike. Are you ready? Is your agency?

Fair weather permitting, be sure to visit us at our hangout: the Digital Broker LinkedIn group, where we talk about Insurtechs such as WeatherCheck and how they can help insurance agencies achieve operational excellence. Do you have experience handling weather-related claims? Do you have any questions for Demetrius? Join us and tell us.

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