4 Reasons Why GIS Better Predicts Risk for Insurance Technology

Insurance Technology like GIS is Revolutionizing the Industry- Car Insurance Monitoring
Insurance Technology like GIS is Revolutionizing the Industry- Car Insurance Monitoring

Last Updated: Jan 31, 2017

Insurance Technology Trends for Mapping Risk

All you hear today is that insurance companies can save you 15% or more on insurance. They can do this because they can better assess risk.

So how do insurance companies use location intelligence?

Insurers better understand where flood restoration, earthquake damage and hurricane cleanup occurs… All are location-based phenomena.

It’s all about predicting risk in the insurance industry. And insurance companies better manage risk with Geographic Information Systems.

Here are some prime examples how GIS is revolutionizing insurance technology.

How do companies use insurance technology like GIS

It wasn’t until very recently that insurance companies started to understand the benefits of GIS.




Location intelligence becomes relevant because insurance claims are 100% location-based – it just makes sense.

Insurance technology like GIS brings to the fingertips of underwriters much quicker, in real-time data to improve decision making at a quicker pace.

But what are these real-time decisions?

  • Risk assessment uses geographic information to predict risk. Higher risk means higher premiums. Lower premiums are for areas with less risk. Insurance companies divide areas into territories. These territories can be assessed piece-by-piece with risk. People living on a coastline in an area with hurricanes will pay higher premiums. Every hurricane has been mapped in the past. …And if the past is a good indicator of the future – then it’s a start.
  • Claims management involves processing claims with respect to compensation, restoration and repayment in response to loss or damage. GIS assists understanding where risk happens and where customer locations are. This is the proactive approach to responding to customers quickly and in an organized fashion.
  • Building damage

  • Insurance underwriting evaluates risk and exposure for potential clients. The underwriting process decides the amount of coverage, cost and even whether or not the client should be insured at all. GIS enables targeted sales and marketing knowing that underwriters made the right decision. Who are insured? Where is error proximity to hazard? GIS insurance technology lets underwriters examine phenomena quicker and at a more granular level.
  • Insurance fraud is a fraudulent claim usually for personal gain. Geospatial analytics can be used from the start with address misrepresentation. When the public knows another address gets a higher premium, it’s misrepresentation to get a lower premium by falsifying an address. On the claims side, GIS insurance technology can look at suspicious behavior with statistics. When you add location to fraud investigation techniques, it’s a supplementary analysis to analyze opportunistic behavior for insurance claims.

Now, that we have a background on insurance, let’s go through some specific examples:

1 Charging higher insurance premiums in flood-prone areas using radar

Ever notice your home insurance premium skyrocket from the previous year? You might have to thank a geographer for that.

Insurance companies in Australia are using include radar and hydrological modelling.

Geographers can map out areas more prone to flooding, how often these areas would flood and how badly the damage could be.

Flood Restoration - Home Insurance

The past approach was to assess risk by zip or postal code. Think about earthquake and flooding. They don’t start at a postal code or administrative boundary.

The reality is:

Insurance companies are getting really good at determining risk because they hold a lot of risk.

One insurance company may divide the United States into 200,000 separate territories. Each territory assesses how much risk and how much of a premium to charge.

This is why insurance companies can offer such low premiums. GIS insurance technology obtains more granular level of detail with a more holistic view for insurance risk assessments.

READ MORE: The FEMA’s National Flood Hazard Layer contains regulatory flood hazard information in a Geographic Information Systems.

2 Monitoring driving habits with usage-based car insurance

GIS Insurance Mapping - Car Insurance Monitoring

Imagine being tested every day of your life in your driver’s seat.

Car insurance technology equip your car with a GPS and telematic equipment. These GIS tools examine your driving habits every step of the way. What’s your driving speed? Do you suddenly accelerate or brake?

This is how car insurance companies can examine driver behavior and better estimate premiums.




This is analytic granularity at its finest.

Further to that, insurers collect data from inside the vehicle and when the vehicle travels across a geographic boundary.

Geo-fencing is a virtual barrier in the real world. Understanding boundaries are crucial to provide alerts for car rental and car-share companies

3 Doing the detective work for fraudulent crop insurance claims

Crop Insurance

As climate becomes less predictable and more destructive (such as droughts and floods), farmers have to adapt to this new reality.

In these cases, crop insurance can help farmers supplement their income when their fields don’t get seeded. Insurance companies and the United States Geological Survey (USGS) are teaming to up to fight crop insurance fraud.

The USGS measures vegetation growth using Landsat red, infrared channels in combination with NDVI.

Even after the fact a claim is processed, you can verify claims using free Landsat-8 data available to the public online.

Crop insurance companies gain the right tools to verify seeded crops and catch fraud.

READ MORE: Landsat Helps Fight Crop Insurance Fraud: Saving Millions in Government Dollars

4 Analyzing crowd-sourced data during natural disasters

Weather Map

From remote sensing to ground sensing, people are connected online with their mobile phone phone or device.

Suddenly, we have people around the world sharing information constantly between one another through the internet.

In real-time, people report their experiences of an event as it happens …And this data can be very beneficial to insurance companies

Insurers use social media to capture hot spots from the true source of the event. This can add clarity, assist in allocating resources and validating events.

When you put user-contributed content on a map, GIS can show social media at a proximity away from an insured customer.

What’s Next?

The majority of data in insurance has a spatial component. Close to 100% of it, really.

Location intelligence and GIS insurance technology now becomes relevant in a number of areas …GIS has a lot to grow in the insurance industry

Think about the perils we are exposed. Whether it’s earthquakes, flooding or wind damage… And the exact location becomes key and understanding accumulation of risk.

The insurance industry expects to see more growth in geospatial information in insurance as major players are getting involved in the technology.

What are some interesting ways you’ve seen GIS used in the insurance business?

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