Loss Expert Strawn Anticipates Mild 2008 Property Claims Environment

January 17, 2008

No easy task lay before anyone attempting to make accurate claims projections. One hurricane over Miami and any reasonable forecasts blow away.

Hugh Strawn, assistant vice president of the Property Loss Research Bureau, was understandably succinct then when he predicted a reduced number of catastrophes for 2008.

Basing his prediction on personal and commercial property claims data from 2007, Strawn said, “If the trend were to continue we would have a hurricane or two, but most of the damage is going to be caused by routine weather events.”

“The majority of the claims on buildings will be weather related or a routine fire, ruptured plumbing system, etc.,” Strawn said.

In 2007, aside from the wild land fires in California, wind and hail in the plains states caused much of the nation’s property claims, as measured by ISO’s property claims services.

Should a series of major catastrophes defy Strawn’s prognostication, he believes technological advancements have the industry better prepared to handle claims in bulk more routinely.

Telecommuting, for example, evidently helps the claims process. Strawn said more adjusters are telecommuting nowadays thanks to advancements with online claims centers. He expects this trend to continue throughout the year, “From an adjuster’s perspective, the ability to go online to do your work, during what may be considered ‘non business hours,’ makes for a very convenient and efficient work environment.”

“Most of the adjusters that I have talked to recently have been very happy with the telecommuting technology offered today and the flexibility it gives them in doing their jobs,” Strawn said. He reported that the PLRB has people working with its online center at all hours, “Our data shows that we have people in the system late at night and early in the morning — times that you would normally think there wouldn’t be too much activity.”

The group intends to continue submitting to this trend by adding more online capabilities. “In the second quarter we are planning on bringing all of our geographical information system to an online internet mapping server … This would allow [members] to ‘geo-code’ an address and pull up on a map, information on weather losses related to that property to find the probability of lightning, hail, wind, etc.,” said Strawn.

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