Facilitating Fast, Accurate Flood Insurance Valuations
This article, an interview with Denis Brosnan, CEO at DIMONT, originally appeared in the December 2016 Housing News Report newsletter published by ATTOM Data Solutions. For a free subscription to the award-winning Housing News Report, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is your elevator pitch for DIMONT?
“Twenty years ago, DIMONT founded the industry of providing hazard insurance claims adjustment services for mortgage loan investors and servicers. These days, we’re looking at 150,000 or more damage reports a month on distressed properties.
“Essentially our process is that, after a property on a defaulted loan becomes vacant, the servicer orders a property inspection, and the inspector files a report. We get those property inspection reports and our trained employees review them, looking for claimable damage. For instance, in one of the pictures they may see a spot on the wall. They use their training to determine whether that’s a stain or mold — in which case it may be covered by the insurance company. If so, they file a claim against the insurance policy. Then, our cadre of licensed public adjusters work with the insurance carriers to resolve the claims.
“Recovering the insurance proceeds is critical because the servicer needs to repair the damages to get the property into conveyance condition.
How do you and your customers utilize ATTOM Data?
“Our lender clients also look for us to provide a variety of other specialty outsourced insurance and claims-related services. One of those is to provide an opinion of the value of a property, for flood insurance purposes, to make sure there is enough (but not too much) coverage under the NFIP (National Flood Insurance Program).
“Our valuation tells them the amount of coverage they should require because, as the lien holder, the bank is going to want to have sufficient flood insurance on the property. On the other hand, as regulated entities, banks also need to ensure that they don’t require too much coverage, as the premium costs are borne by the borrower.
“Performing this service has historically been exceedingly manual. That makes it at risk for errors. And our clients need the information very readily so we have to turn around the valuations quickly, while ensuring they are accurate and justifiable.
“With ATTOM we can get publicly available data about the house, like year built, square footage, and much more, and that solves all of these challenges we face. It’s fast, it’s reliable and it’s already in data format as opposed to documents. This is helpful because the data is then easily utilized by the technology tools we use to render the valuation opinion.
Why did you decide to use ATTOM Data?
“What really triggered the need for this new flood insurance valuation was the increase to the limits of the flood insurance program. The combination of the increase in the limits and the continued scrutiny on banks and servicers really caused our clients to come to us. They need valuations rendered by an expert third-party, with a reliable process.
“We did several tests with the ATTOM Data. We got sample data and showed our clients. And they embraced it.
“This is a very unique, cutting edge service. Banks are trying to figure out what to do in this area, but most of them don’t have the capability or the expertise. Some of them are doing it in-house. Some of them are not even doing it at all.
What has been the impact on your business and for your customers?
“With the ATTOM implementation, DIMONT has gone from 1.75 flood reviews per hour per employee to 5-plus per hour per employee — nearly tripling our efficiency and allowing us to save our customers time and money.
“In the past we’ve taken as many as 1,000 flood insurance valuation assignments in a day. We have 24 people that do this work. That number would easily be 50 or 60 if we didn’t have the ATTOM Data service in place. My guess is that if a servicer is doing this themselves, they would need well over 100 people.
“It enables us to focus on the value-add portion of the service — our insurance expertise —as opposed to the number-crunching aspect. Our experts spend their time doing what they do best instead of chasing down documents.
“This is a vanguard of where I think the industry will go. Through access to data that is both timely and accurate, along with insight and expertise, we really have something that is a new and different mission-critical offering for banks and servicers.
What has been your experience with data delivery, quality and customer service?
“We’ve been very pleased. As always when you try something new, there are some hiccups here and there, but we’ve had a great relationship with ATTOM. Richard (our primary point of contact) from day one has been extremely helpful.
“What we’re able to do is work with ATTOM and let them know, ‘here’s what we need to do’, and work together to do it. It’s been a collaborative, solution-oriented approach.”
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