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2019 Innovation Awards: Escape of Water

Business Insurance 2019 Innovation Awards

Crawford & Co.

Growing consumer and policyholder comfort with “internet of things” devices such as garage door openers made 2019 the right time for Crawford & Co. to launch a new solution for a concerning problem for insurers: rising water damage claims.

“People started getting comfortable with devices like this,” said Michael Beverly, Atlanta-based vice president and managing director for Crawford.

Water loss claims were “the number one thing that kept resonating with the insurance carriers we spoke with” — both for commercial and residential properties, with “rampant” water losses driven by issues such as cold weather or aging infrastructure, he said.

“It’s one of the largest exposures out there,” Mr. Beverly said.

The company worked on developing a “proactive” solution that entailed the use of a water-sensing device that, much like a home security device, would alert the call center about a potential water problem and enable Crawford to respond “more rapidly to losses,” he said.

“It could be a false alarm … that causes a sensor to go off,” Mr. Beverly said. “We validate that, yes, a claim is going on and take the appropriate action.”

Crawford launched Escape of Water this spring and is working with an unnamed major insurer to pilot the product, but it has already used it in several situations to quickly alert property managers or policyholders about leaks and allow them to shut off the water before it causes major damage, he said.

“We basically eliminated the need for them to file a claim,” Mr. Beverly said.

The company is also using the technology in an effort to replace the policyholder as the first notice of loss, he said.

“We’re not having to wait on the policyholder to call us — we’re calling them,” Mr. Beverly said.

Privacy is a concern for some policyholders, as it often is with technologies that gather such information.

“Policyholders may not be completely on board with the technology,” he said.

“I think there is still some apprehension from customers: ‘Why would I have a device monitoring what’s happening at my property?’”

But Escape of Water makes sense from both a commercial and residential standpoint, and “the costs of the devices have come way down from a few years ago,” he said.

“We’re able to scale at a rapid pace,” Mr. Beverly said.


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