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State Farm adjusters go virtual as more than 34,000 claims roll in for Texas winter storm

The largest insurer in Texas is using video calls to stay distanced during the pandemic and to get to a mountain of claims.

The damage is real, but many of the adjustments have gone virtual. 

The state is slowly recovering from what the Insurance Council of Texas expects to be the costliest weather event ever for insurers in Texas. 

RELATED: After the storm: Is your home under-insured?

State Farm gave WFAA a walk through of its remote assessment. The company says it can process more claims more quickly by going virtual -- important for a pandemic, but also as claims continue to pour in.

In a demonstration, Bruce Wood used his cell phone to walk State Farm employee Vivian Jefferson-Fields through the damage in his College Station home.

Jefferson-Fields was able to direct Wood to focus on certain aspects.

“Can you get a little bit closer so I can get a picture of that repair?”

“Do you have any damage to those baseboards?”

“Ok let me get that I see it is pulling away from the wall”

She was also able to snap clear photographs using the video stream from Wood’s phone and at one point was even able to add a flash to brighten a photo being taken by his phone. 

The whole scene was photographically documented using this method, then Jefferson-Fields got a measure of the room by asking Wood for a piece of anatomical info. 

“Can you give me your shoes size please, sir,” she asked, followed by having him to walk from one end of the room to the other.

Jefferson-Fields said she can assess the damage as easily this way as she could when she was out in the field.

Wood had some cracked pipes and lots of water inside his house. After a quick video chat tour, Jefferson-Fields said she could have an estimate for his claim within about an hour without him having to wait for the company's field person to show up.

Wood was impressed with the virtual experience. 

“I am utterly amazed by the technology," he said. "It is just awesome and gives you a quicker response because there’s just so many field people they can put out here.”

State Farm is doing this because of the need for distance during the pandemic, and because of the huge number of Texans with damage. 

For just this storm, just this one insurance company has already gotten 34,300 claims. State Farm says most of those are because of busted pipes. For perspective, for all of last year---nationwide---State Farm had about 3,800 broken pipe claims.

If you are with another insurer and prefer this kind of distanced approach, ask if they have a similar program.

For the uninsured and underinsured, even FEMA is trying to do remote assessments. Click here for more information and for details on how to apply for FEMA disaster assistance.

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