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2020 Innovation Awards: Remote Collaboration feature of Zurich Risk Advisor

2020 Innovation Awards: Remote Collaboration feature of Zurich Risk Advisor

Zurich Insurance Group Ltd.

The Remote Collaboration feature of Zurich Risk Advisor was not a reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the tool saw growing interest and demand when site visits and inspections became increasingly difficult amid the pandemic’s spread and resulting restrictions.

“The thought process was about making us more flexible and responsive and to some degree resilient, although pandemic was specifically not on our minds,” said Norman Eng, New York-based director of innovation and digital solutions, risk engineering, for Zurich North America, part of Zurich Insurance Group Ltd. 

The tool, which allows Zurich risk engineers to make remote inspections via encrypted video links with policyholders using a handheld device, was launched in July 2019 after about a year of development, Mr. Eng said. It also lets risk engineers pull high-resolution still photos from the video feed of those inspections.

Interest in the tool, which won a 2020 Business Insurance Innovation Award, grew as the pandemic took hold, according to Mr. Eng.

“Into March, we started getting feedback from customers,” who wanted to postpone site inspections due to concerns about COVID-19, Mr. Eng said. “It’s become a really valuable part of our toolbox.”

Policyholders and brokers were “thrilled” to have the technology available, said Fausto Steidle, Zurich Group’s head of risk engineering in Zurich.

The Remote Collaboration feature is available to all risk engineers at Zurich to help policyholders and prospects address risk control. It is available for multiple lines of coverage and carries no additional charges or premiums, Mr. Eng said.

One advantage of the tool is that it allows experts to collaborate on a project even when they are separated by long distances. In one case, engineers in Spain assessed a location in Australia, Mr.
Eng said.

It also allows the insurer to more quickly verify risk improvement actions taken by policyholders and prospects, which can be checked almost immediately rather than requiring a follow-up site visit, Mr. Steidle said.

The tool also saves travel times, which average more than two hours each way for site visits in the United States, Mr. Eng said, adding that some clients have thousands of locations in a portfolio, making a site visit to each logistically challenging if not impossible. The remote feature allows Zurich “to increase the number of locations we have eyes on,” he said.

The Remote Collaboration feature also helps satisfy policyholder demand for online and remote tools.

Digital capabilities, Mr. Eng said, “are expected by customers to some degree at this point.”

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