Desktop assessments: Horse or automobile?
Insuranceshortfall.com's James Scott Brown, explores the doubt (and enthusiasm) surrounding desktop-based rebuild cost assessments…
When Henry Ford's lawyer approached the Michigan Savings Bank for finance to support his investment in the manufacture of cars back in 1903, he was told: "The horse is here to stay, but the automobile is only a novelty, a fad."
History is littered with such statements of doubt and with the benefit of hindsight many of them make for quite amusing reading. Other classics include:
"The Americans have need of the telephone, but we do not. We have plenty of messenger boys.” Sir William Preece, Chief Engineer, British Post Office, 1878.
"Television won't last. It's a flash in the pan." Mary Somerville, pioneer of radio educational broadcasts, 1948.
"These Google guys, they want to be billionaires and rock stars and go to conferences and all that. Let us see if they still want to run the business in two to three years."
Microsoft's Bill Gates in 2003.
Of course there is another side to this coin. Just ask anyone who invested in the Sinclair C5, or how about this quote from Roger Smith, chairman of General Motors in 1986: "By the turn of the century, we will live in a paperless society." I don't know about you, but I still see plenty of it flying around our office!
What all of this demonstrates is that change always leads to both doubt and enthusiasm. Since we launched Insuranceshortfall.com, which is largely built on our ability to carry out desktop Rebuild Cost Assessments (RCAs), we’ve faced both kinds of response. Many brokers are enthusiastic about the lower price we can offer. After all, our costs are considerably reduced by our Chartered Surveyors not having to travel to a property to spend a large proportion of their time conducting site assessments. They can now do far more from their desks, which lowers our costs considerably.
However, there are also brokers who tell us “I’m not convinced by desktop assessments” and “how can we be sure they actually work?”
Our response to this is our ongoing validation and Quality Assurance (QA) programe. As part of the initial development of our desktop RCAs we carried out more than 100 on-site assessments in parallel to facilitate comparison. Our own surveyors were deployed, independent of those producing our desktop assessments. No significant variants between the desktop and site reports were identified through this process and through our QA system we continue to conduct regular validation of our desktop RCAs using similar techniques.
We live in an age of digital disruption and I’m prepared to stick my neck out and say that desktop assessments are no fad. In time they will become the norm. For now, it’s up to you to decide whether you’re an enthusiast or a doubter. I may be proven wrong, but...
I’d rather be one of those Google guys than work for the Michigan Savings Bank.