26 Jun 2024
How geospatial technology is shaping the future of insurance

How geospatial technology is shaping the future of insurance

  • QBE is harnessing geospatial data, AI, and aerial imagery to support the claims experience for commercial customers impacted by severe weather events
  • In an Australian pilot of this technology during Cyclone Jasper in December 2023, QBE commercial customers impacted by potential flood water were triaged using the technology, minimising the need for hydrology reports and helping to avoid delays
  • Global pilots are allowing QBE to further refine this technology and to potentially expand its operational use into underwriting and risk assessment functions

Technology and big data are being used to create better outcomes across a range of industries globally, and the insurance sector is no different. Harnessed well, this technology can enhance many areas of the business – from risk assessment and management to disaster response and claims management.

That’s why QBE Ventures has invested in and partnered with several technology companies with broad applications in the insurance industry. By being involved from the ground up, we can guide the development of platforms specifically for insurance needs, rather than relying on ‘off the shelf’ solutions.

One area in which significant strides are being made is in the use of geospatial technology, which enables the collection, analysis, and visualisation of geographic data.

“Geospatial technology provides QBE with an accurate view of where all of our insured properties are, as well as a visual representation of their geographic surrounds,” said James Orchard, Chief Executive Officer, QBE Ventures.

“Using this technology and overlaying it with other data sources, for example, live satellite streams, will enable us to support our claims response and risk identification capabilities.”

Solving the geocoding challenge

To enable the effective use of geospatial technology, properties must be accurately geocoded. In 2023, QBE completed this process for its Australian property book through Geosite – a geospatial data aggregation platform that received investment from QBE Ventures and has since been acquired by Descartes Labs.

Geosite uses advanced technologies such as AI, machine learning and computer vision to combine data from various sources, including satellite imagery – into a single platform for use in day-to-day business operations.

“This application of geospatial technology has benefits for our customers, broker partners, and for QBE,” said Orchard.

“Our team will have accurate information on where the property is located, its condition and potential exposure to natural disasters. They also have an enhanced understanding of how natural disasters have impacted certain areas.”

“From a claims perspective, we’ll be able to assess the impacts of severe weather events in near real-time – directing supplies and support to where it’s most urgently needed.”

Putting geospatial technology to the test

QBE was able to pilot the new technology during its response to Tropical Cyclone Jasper, which hit northern Queensland in December 2023.

Accurate geospatial data, combined with property condition data from multiple sources, supplied QBE with a near real-time view of the impact of Cyclone Jasper, including the damage caused to insured commercial properties by potential flood water.

“Having access to geospatial data allowed us to respond more effectively. We were able to assess the impacts immediately, rather than waiting for hydrologist reports,” said Chad Vigar, Head of Property Claims, QBE Australia Pacific.

“Our supply chain team was also able to assess in real-time what resources and trades would be needed to respond effectively and carry out repairs,” said Vigar.

How geospatial technology can improve the insurance chain

Geospatial technology can help make the insurance process faster and more accurate, ultimately delivering better outcomes for insurers, brokers and our customers.

Using geospatial data to accurately assess property risks

By analysing detailed information about a property's location, surroundings, materials, and condition, QBE can quickly and accurately understand the individual risk each property presents. This enables more precise pricing and reduces the risk of underinsurance.

Managing the claims response with geospatial data

By leveraging geospatial data, we can monitor and assess the impact of natural catastrophes or weather events on insured properties in near real-time. This capability enables QBE to respond to claims more swiftly. It also provides a clearer understanding of the damage, allowing us to determine the necessary steps to help insured individuals restore their property to pre-event conditions.

Enhancing supply chain deployment with geospatial technology

As demonstrated in the example above, understanding the precise impact of severe weather events on our insured properties allows QBE to determine what resources are needed on the ground and deploy them to the areas most in need. It also allows us to quickly mobilise the right trades and services, leading to faster repairs and a better service for our insured properties.

Building resilient communities with the help of technology

Geospatial technology is set to improve the way we manage property risks at QBE.

For now, we’re refining our technology through further pilots in Australia and across our international divisions. As we gather more data and explore deeper integration of AI models, our new geospatial data platforms will become integral to the way we work at QBE.

Learn more about QBE Ventures’ work in insurtech.

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