The Human Element – Part 2

By Hank Hair, Young Online

An industry company has realized the need and have developed a process of capturing “real time” data from the field. This is far more advanced than the typical way the same data is, and has been, captured and processed in our industry for the last 50 years using handwritten paper time sheets, lists, and logs. That handwritten information must then be hand keyed into a computer system and in some instances, keyed as many as three times. We now have the capability, using new technology, of accurately capturing and collecting that same labor, equipment, and consumables data on the job site electronically. That captured data is sent to the cloud, and is made available immediately to determine daily expenditures, budget, and to expedite invoicing using accurate data, with no manual data entry necessary. Does that sound complicated?

A byproduct of the use of these new technologies is less and less human interaction with the insured and between carrier, adjuster, consultants, and contractors. Our industry was built on human interaction, communication, compassion, trust, honesty, integrity, and performance.  The occasional handholding of an elderly insured that has just lost everything in a fire, patiently explaining the claims process over and over, to just sit in the lobby of some obscure hotel and listen to the man that just lost the love of his life in a tornado. Going and getting an insured a cup of coffee or something to eat because they are afraid to leave their home as the looters might steal the only things they have left. We can’t forget why we are in this industry to start with, to service our client’s needs, and sometimes that is simply an ear, a shoulder, or a hug.

The claims industry is in definite need of catching up with new, innovative, efficient ways of capturing data, and using that data to its full potential and better serve our clients/insureds. But we can never completely get rid of the need of the human element, just like with the “WOPR”, there are going to be times when technology just can’t get the job done. To be honest, we could possibly do more harm than good if the right precautions and safeguards have not been thought of or put in place. As long as we understand and remember that we will be just fine.

We have to keep our eyes on the bullseye and understand what each of us, be it on a corporate or individual level, what we are really looking for in new technology and how it can make life easier on us and still better serve our clients. We also have to understand that no technology is “magic”, and It takes human beings to design, implement, update, and make it work.

Please don’t get me wrong, there are definite advantages to removing the “Human Element” and moving into the use of technology, the ability to migrate information with fewer errors, better accuracy, more reliability, expedience, and the ability to better integrate current systems with other systems is a win for everyone. At a corporate level, realization of recovering of lost revenue, on an individual level, the realization of something you can never recover, lost time. Another biproduct of technology is the ability to collect data. This data is measurable, and how that captured data can be applied is immeasurable.

After being in this industry for 38 plus years, when we handed our adjusters our handwritten estimates, on a single piece of paper, to now where we have computer generated, line item, detailed estimates with hundreds, if not thousands, of entries. I can speak from experience that moving into a technological world can be very intimidating, but it can also be very rewarding. People just don’t like change. What I first experienced was fear, the fear of being embarrassed at my ignorance of technology, the fear of not being able to be proficient in it’s utilization, the fear of “breaking it”, the fear of “am I going to be replaced by this technology?” And maybe just the stubbornness or non-conformity route kicks in of “I just won’t do it until I am forced to”.

What I have come to realize is computers, like children, have no fear. Matthew Broderick’s characters thirst and quest for playing computer games got him in trouble, but in the end exposed a serious flaw in the “WOPR”s design, he basically saved the world. Computers do not have the ability of fear, they just do what the software tells them to do, and hopefully the software engineers have incorporated all the necessary safeguards, then quality assurance testers have worked out all the bugs through performance testing.

Our children also have no fear of technology as they will try anything. At young ages they have no idea of what feeling embarrassed or ignorant are, so they just do it! Just hand one a tablet or cell phone and watch as they teach themselves through trial and error. Some of us will remember when Texas Instruments came out with the “Graphing” calculator, the TI-84, HALLELUJAH! It had pre-loaded formulas and all we had to do was load the values, hit the right formula button, and it would spit out the correct answer. It was like legal cheating! But when it came test time, our teachers did not allow us the use them for the test, we had to use our brains, we had practice and memorize those equations and theorems by studying and completing our homework assignments. Those were the days of showing your work and getting partial credit, LOL!

We were being prepared for when that new technology goes down or is not available, for example; that satellite imagery cannot measure that roof for you, so you had better know how, and be prepared, to fall back on the “old school ways” of setting up and climbing a ladder (a fear for some in itself) with your pad of graph paper, your pencil, and your Stanley measuring tape. If you don’t have a pitch gauge you had better brush up on your geometry and the Pythagorean Theorem.

Never take the old ways for granted, you never know when you will have to fall back on them.

So, we can take a lesson from our children and the “WOPR”, we need to put our fears aside and continue to learn every day. Welcome change and the world of new technologies, but never forgetting how we got to the dance, and always remembering the need for “The Human Element” is a necessity. Make a commitment to yourself to never forget the values on which our industry was built, and to embrace future technologies, knowing the two will inevitability collide, hopefully creating a perfect combination of both technology and “The Human Element”.

If you would like more information about this article, please contact Hank Hair with Young Online at or 404-863-8447.

This is a publication of Southern Loss Association, Inc., P.O. Box 421564, Atlanta, GA 30342. The articles published on this website are in a general format and are not intended to be legal advice applicable to any specific circumstances. Legal opinions may vary when based on subtle factual differences. All rights reserved.