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Virtual Claims Handling Quickly Delivers Accurate Results

Property and casualty insurers are integrating drones and other means of virtual claims handling as part of their routine property inspections. But, in litigation, virtual claims handling is unfairly getting a bad rap from plaintiffs’ attorneys who try to pass it off as solely a cost-cutting measure by insurers.

In actuality, virtual claims handling works to the benefit of both insureds and insurers because it allows an insurer to handle a claim sooner without compromising accuracy. The current COVID-19 pandemic is proving the value of virtual claim handling capabilities. Major metropolitan areas have “shelter-at-home” policies in place to minimize in-person contact. Even where such policies are not in place, cities across the country are practicing social distancing. Under such circumstances, an insured may not want an adjuster to come to their property to handle a claim. But, an insurer that utilizes virtual claims handling can send a drone to a property, control it remotely and capture images of damages for an adjuster to review without any in-person contact.

Some plaintiffs’ attorneys may argue drone images are not fully capable of capturing damages present on a property. However, the accuracy of such images has already been established. A virtual imagery system known as Eagleview has long been the industry standard for measuring properties by both contractors and insurers. Eagleview takes aerial, high-resolution images of properties that are so comprehensive they can be used to measure the pitch of a roof and determine the exact number of squares on a roof.

Similarly, aerial images taken by Google are detailed enough to reflect the history of repairs to a property and the general condition of a property. Through such images, one can determine whether a roof has been replaced in subsequent years, the number of metal appurtenances on the roof, whether any appurtenances have been changed and whether any new construction has been completed at the property.

Now consider that, in virtual claims handling, the images are taken in much closer proximity than aerial images. The details of any existing damages are easy to see. The skepticism regarding virtual property inspections is simply unwarranted. Virtual claims handling is the claims handling of the future, and insureds are fortunate if their insurer is one of the carriers leading the transition. This has become even more apparent under recent circumstances such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

© 2020 Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP. All Rights Reserved.National Law Review, Volume X, Number 258


About this Author

Sara Inman Litigation Attorney Faegre Drinker

Sara Inman has established her practice with a wide range of litigation experience that includes product liability defense, insurance bad faith litigation, commercial litigation and litigation involving catastrophic injuries. She represents small businesses and Fortune 500 companies in state and federal courts and has experience in all aspects of trial preparation and arbitration. Sara is frequently taking depositions or attending hearings, which has made her very comfortable in a courtroom and prepared to handle complex issues that may arise during the course of...

Susan E. Egeland Corporate Litigation Attorney Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath Dallas, TX

An experienced litigator who defends the assets and interests of corporate clients, Susan Egeland understands that the first step to advocacy is listening to her clients and tailoring her solutions to their needs. Her client-focused and results-oriented approach wins praise from clients, and she dedicates herself to distilling client objectives and developing bespoke strategies accordingly. Susan has defended hundreds of lawsuits for clients engaged in product liability, insurance, commercial and employment disputes and handles each according to its unique challenges. When representing clients in court, Susan will argue aggressively for her client’s best interests, whether that is a dismissal, favorable settlement or trial on the merits.

Susan’s corporate experience in product liability and business litigation, as well as large commercial cases, toxic tort litigation, sexual abuse, aviation and construction, spans numerous industries, including:

  • Insurance
  • Product manufacturing
  • Industrial facilities
  • Education

Susan is a frequent speaker on trial-related topics, including how best to prepare and defend a case from inception through motion practice, discovery and trial.

Representative Experience

  • Defended a national insurance company in coverage disputes throughout Texas
  • Defended schools and an educational research corporation in employment disputes over negligent hiring, training and supervision
  • Managed national defense for a major retailer in products liability cases pending in California, Texas and Arkansas, with case handling from initial pleadings through resolution, including trial
  • Served as national coordinating counsel for an international chemical company, managing all mass tort products and premises liability litigation and trial work
  • Defended manufacturers of products including industrial equipment, household appliances, paint and coatings, chemicals, toys, and others in national litigation
  • Defended employment disputes on behalf of large corporations, small businesses and physician practice groups