Ensuring insurance from the air

Case study

The hurricane season of 2017 was the most expensive on record, with estimated damages upward of $306 billion. To recover from such destructive events, communities need financial support, provided by government organisations and mostly insurance companies.

To accurately calculate the cost of damages to an affected area, and, therefore, make correct payments, insurance companies and their contracted risk analysis service firms need to understand the structures, be it homes or businesses. There is where Geomni, a fully-owned business of risk assessment and data analytics company Verisk, comes in.

Founded in 2012 to bring a critical service in-house, Geomni uses remote sensing and image capture to create complete packages of data for property professionals, from insurance agents to roofers, to accurately provide services to their clients. One of the instruments the firm uses to collect this detailed data is the Leica CityMapper airborne hybrid sensor.


Ensuring estimates



When hurricanes, such as the major trio from 2017 - Michael, Irma and Maria – threaten an area, insurance and risk analysis firms begin crunching the numbers. Teams of mathematicians, statisticians, meteorologists and structural engineers work from combined data sources to make accurate estimates of damage.

The data includes weather forecasts, projected wind speeds, past insurance claims from similar affected areas, and the structural details of buildings in the predicted path of the hurricane. Knowing the estimated damage costs helps insurance companies set reserves of resources to pay claims, plan where to send accessors, and develop strategic plans for covering wide-spread damage, such as those the 2017 hurricane season caused.

The last data factor, understanding individual buildings, is where Geomni specialises. The complete data packages the firm creates contains detailed information about a property, including measurements for roofs, windows, walls, doors and more. The packages also include the capture of data about surrounding structures, such as patios, pools and landscaped assets. This accurate data gives accessors a complete before picture when comparisons need to be made after a destructive event occurs.

“With that understanding, our aim is to capture and process high-resolution aerial oblique imagery and other types of geospatial data of as many properties as possible across the entire United States,” say Magnus Olson, Geomni senior vice president of data strategy. “We’ve been able to find the high-resolution imagery and streamline our flying process with the CityMapper. This understanding of the before condition of an enormous database of individual structures is critical to being able to provide prompt, accurate assessments of damage after any event.”


Ensuring a simplified workflow



As a proud, self-sufficient company, Geomni searched for a faster and more reliable way to provide its clients the detailed imagery needed to quickly make damage estimates and process claim payments. With the combination of regionally-dispersed aircraft and each equipped with CityMapper, the firm is now providing results in days instead of months as the case used to be when relying on outside contractors to capture aerial imagery.

Today, Geomni has its own fleet of aircraft at hubs strategically located across the United States, many of which are equipped with CityMapper airborne sensors. The ability to provide both LiDAR and oblique imagery in one pass with the world’s first hybrid airborne sensor is also bringing new opportunities to the firm.

“With both types of data, we have greater flexibility to take on different types of jobs,” said Olson. “Not only can we serve our core markets, like insurance, but we’re also expanding into traditional geospatial markets, such as surveying and mapping.”

As scientists predict climate change to continue elevating hurricanes and other natural events, the need for better understanding of structures threatened by these forces of nature increases. High-quality aerial imagery provides a means to not only understand the basic structure but also the details of the building and surrounding assets that could possibly be affected. The more that is known about these structures, the more capable insurance companies are to provide needed resources and the better able communities will be to recover from disasters.




Though Geomni supports post-disaster response, the company’s main focus is baseline imagery. Also collected with the CityMapper, baseline imagery is collected on a yearly basis with bi-annual updates. Geomni aims to fly all cities and urban areas in the United States with a population of 15,000 or more, and it makes tailored baseline imagery available according to customers’ unique needs.

Geomni serves a variety of industries, such as real estate, construction and landscaping, with its core offering of this baseline imagery. The detailed data available on particular properties enables these professionals to have the information needed to make accurate bids on jobs. Furthermore, driving its support of post-disaster response, the baseline imagery Geomni collects, and its original intention of implementing CityMapper into its workflows, also significantly increases the value of pre- and post-disaster analysis.

“By using the baseline imagery, users are quicker and more efficient in drafting their bids; knowing exactly what they’ll need to get the job done without overages,” said Magnus Olson, Geomni senior vice president of data strategy. “At Geomni, our job is to enable our clients to do the best possible work by providing them with the most accurate possible data.”

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