Farmers Insurance Introduces Mobile Robot for Catastrophe Claims, Property Inspections

Built by Boston Dynamics, robot ‘Spot’ will help reduce the time required to capture data and augment the in-field claims review process.

(Farmers mobile robot ‘Spot.’ Source: Farmers.) 

Farmers Insurance (Woodland Hills, Calif.) has announced plans to use a digitally controlled mobile robot to assist with in-field catastrophe claims handling and non-catastrophe property inspections, with the aim of helping to improve the safety and efficiency of both while becoming one of the first national property/casualty insurers to deploy a robotic quadruped. Created by Boston Dynamics (Waltham, Mass.) and customized for Farmers, the robot—named “Spot”—will be used by Farmers claims personnel as early as fall 2021 to help assess damage from catastrophes such as hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, and wildfires.

Samantha Santiago, Head of Claims Strategy and Automation, Farmers.

Farmers reports that Spot will be equipped with a variety of sensors and cameras, including a 360-degree camera and site documentation software to help reduce the time required to capture data and augment the in-field claims review process. The robot may also help Farmers claims adjusters collect critical data and assist with claims handling optimization to serve impacted customers more efficiently, according to a statement from the insurer.

In addition to utilizing Spot for in-field claims use, Farmers says it will explore applications that could help first-responder organizations during scenarios such as post-event search and rescue operations, accessing areas to assess danger for first responders or others, and/or pre-inspections to assess safety for anyone in the general vicinity.

Created by Boston Dynamics and customized for Farmers, Spot will be used by claims personnel beginning as early as fall 2021 to help assess damage from catastrophes such as hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, and wildfires. The robot’s agility, advanced mobility, and perception to navigate various rough terrain will allow it to access spaces and environments inaccessible for claims employees. Spot will be equipped with a variety of sensors and cameras, including a 360-degree camera and site documentation software to help reduce the time required to capture data and augment the in-field claims review process.

Spot will be equipped with a variety of sensors and cameras, including a 360-degree camera and site documentation software to help reduce the time required to capture data and augment the in-field claims review process. Source: Farmers. (Click to enlarge.)

Spot may also help claims adjusters collect critical data and assist with claims handling optimization to serve impacted customers more efficiently, according to Farmers. Additionally, the robot may be utilized to handle non-catastrophic events such as structure fires, collapsed structures, water loss, or other potentially hazardous environments in the future.

“Farmers’ focus on enhancing human-powered technology has led the organization to this very exciting milestone where we’re able to utilize new and emerging technology like a robot to further strengthen our commitment to our customers, all while helping to keep our employees safe,” comments Samantha Santiago, Head of Claims Strategy and Automation, Farmers. “Adding such a dynamic robot to our stock of evolving tech—such as drones and satellite imagery—will help us build on our legacy and deepen our commitment to customers.”

In addition to utilizing Spot for in-field claims use, Farmers will explore applications that could help first-responder organizations during scenarios such as post-event search and rescue operations, accessing areas to assess danger for first responders or others, and/or pre-inspections to assess safety for anyone in the general vicinity. Source: Farmers. (Click to enlarge.)

Farmers’ places the robot within a context of efforts to apply technology to innovate for its customers and employees. In recent years, the organization introduced an aerial imagery program leveraging drones, manned aircraft and satellite technology to help enhance claims operational efficiencies. Farmers also announced in late 2017 the deployment of a virtual reality (VR) program to help train claims representatives for home damage assessments. The VR program is still being used today and has been a vital technological asset to continue to train claims adjusters during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Exploring Further Uses for ‘Spot’

In addition to utilizing Spot for in-field claims use, Farmers will explore applications that could help first-responder organizations during scenarios such as post-event search and rescue operations, accessing areas to assess danger for first responders or others, and/or pre-inspections to assess safety for anyone in the general vicinity.

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Anthony R. O’Donnell // Anthony O'Donnell is Executive Editor of Insurance Innovation Reporter. For nearly two decades, he has been an observer and commentator on the use of information technology in the insurance industry, following industry trends and writing about the use of IT across all sectors of the insurance industry. He can be reached at [email protected] or (503) 936-2803.

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