Property monitoring technology makes data-driven underwriting easier and better informed than ever, as Shepherd CEO Stephen Chadwick explains to Intelligent Insurer.
From damage caused by leaking pipes to the reputational impact of a legionella outbreak, there are multiple insurable risks that can be addressed and stopped in their tracks with better monitoring.
Periodic human checks can result in slow discovery of problems, leading to larger claims, which is where property risk management specialist Shepherd comes in, with its unique cyber approach to helping assess and manage risks as never before. The presence of Shepherd in a building provides a wealth of specific and accurate knowledge, and a proven track record of reducing both the number and the size of losses.
“Rather than just being an alarm system, it will alert the relevant people so they can react to the problem.”
Shepherd’s software platform, the Shepherd Engine, collects and analyses data from a broad range of devices, from the internet of things (IoT) monitors in fridges and freezers to digital building management systems, and from electricity consumption monitoring devices to temperature and movement sensors. It provides constant building monitoring and makes this information available to insureds and insurers in a format that is easy to access and totally up to date.
“Insurers generally want to move towards data-driven underwriting, but in-house they don’t have the agility and skills to do so,” says chief executive officer Stephen Chadwick.
“We can see where an issue may be occurring and are able to provide the insurer with a risk score for each property. They can see across their portfolio which properties are performing better than others and why, and they can delve into the underlying data supporting their underwriting model instead of making a guess.”
A key advantage of the Shepherd Engine is the flexibility and detail of the data it collects, organises and reports. An insurer can see how an entire book of business is performing, but it can also easily access granular level detail, right down to how an individual pump in a specific property is functioning. This makes it easy to pinpoint and address issues as they occur.
A growing client list
Shepherd is currently monitoring 1,000 properties for 180 clients. When new insurers come on board, they typically arrange a pilot period, during which the Shepherd Engine quickly demonstrates that the savings it makes outweigh its relatively low cost.
“The result is that insurers gain a far better understanding of the risk profile based on actual data,” says Chadwick.
The benefits to insurers include the ability to avoid large claims and to keep pricing competitive. For the insureds, Shepherd can provide a solution when previous large claims have made a property or group of properties difficult to insure.
“With these types of clients, the insurer pays for Shepherd to be implemented using innovation funding or their risk bursary schemes and will use Shepherd to reduce the premium over time for the client,” says Chadwick.
The types of properties monitored by Shepherd range from schools, housing associations and care homes through to heritage properties and scientific research facilities—where, for example, a failed fridge or freezer can result in a costly claim.
Following the Notre-Dame de Paris fire in April, Shepherd has seen an increase in interest in using the Shepherd Engine to monitor historic properties, especially when contractors are working on site. Changes in temperature, for example, can be detected immediately.
“We can digitise a fire panel or fit leak detection throughout a property,” says Chadwick. “Rather than just being an alarm system, it will alert the relevant people so they can react to the problem. It tells them where issue is, what it is and records that they have been notified. It can pass an alert all way to the fire brigade.”
For buildings that need only temporary monitoring, Shepherd provides a mobile suitcase-sized monitoring station that can be moved from property to property. This is especially useful for vacant properties or properties where contractors are carrying out work. When the work is finished or the property is no longer vacant, the device can be moved on to another property.
While the Shepherd Engine seamlessly links to existing SCADA, BMS and third-party hardware monitoring boilers, pumps, electricity consumption, water pressure and humidity, Shepherd’s Connected Engineering division also makes its own sensors for use with the Shepherd Engine.
“We develop our own sensors when what is available on the market is not good enough,” says Chadwick. “For example, legionella monitoring has to be highly accurate on temperature. There were a lot of devices on the market to do this, but they were not accurate enough, so we developed our own.
“By combining multiple sources of data, Shepherd is able to provide a far more comprehensive monitoring solution than any other provider, and our customer base is growing steadily within the insurance sector,” says Chadwick.
“It’s a relatively cheap solution and the value and granularity are fantastic. It gives you the confidence that the building is performing to its optimum level and that the risks you are concerned about are being managed in that property.”
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