During the Covid-19 insurers have dramatically increased their use of drones and mobile apps. They also anticipate the growth in such technology to continue once the health crisis passes. Some growth in what is known as “insurtech” was driven by the social distancing measures and quarantines that accompanied the pandemic, making technology adoption inevitable.

An associate director at insurance rating firm AM Best, Edin Imsirovic said that the market pressure from the pandemic advanced innovation by a couple of years. “Digitization in the insurance space sort of really accelerated this year due to COVID-19,” Imsirovic adds. That might accurately describe some advances such as communicating virtually with policyholders, said Serge Gagarin, manager of segment marketing at catastrophe risk modeling firm AIR Worldwide. But “large-scale systems integration projects,” big projects insurers might be undertaking, are developing independently of the pandemic, he said.

Over the years, the technology growth hasn’t always been a priority in the insurance industry. “We’re a slow industry to adopt things sometimes, I dare say,” said Don Griffin, vice president of personal lines for the American Property Casualty Insurance Association. For predicting the severity of events and for claims handling the industry has embraced catastrophe modeling. Though the adoption of the technology was increasing before the pandemic, the pandemic led to the acceleration of technology adoption. This modeling gives agents an idea of how strong damage was at a location, said Tom Larsen, principal of industry solutions at CoreLogic. “The influence of [COVID-19] has been to accelerate this technology, which was sort of moving like a glacier,” Larsen said. Using catastrophe modeling for claims is better for policyholders because insurers can handle claims more efficiently and at a lower cost, getting money to clients faster, he said. Because insurers don’t interact with policyholders often, they can differentiate themselves from other companies by how they respond to customers at times of need, Larsen said.

Karen Clark, CEO and co-founder of catastrophe modeling firm Karen Clark & Co., stated that the catastrophe models can be used for projecting average claim severity in the two days before a hurricane makes landfall. Her company’s data is efficient enough to shows damage by zip code and updates twice per day. After a catastrophe, insurers need extra adjusters, so planning for the severity of claims can help them decide where to put them, she added.