For the past several years one of our top priorities has been to find ways to address the challenges of scoping a loss. Nearly everyone in the industry has experiences—and perhaps a scar or two—that prove loss sites can be challenging, uncomfortable, and unsafe. To get the information they need, estimators must deal with safety issues, weather issues, and access issues that often require extraordinary effort. Sometimes demolition must be started before full access can be achieved, and other times special staff, such as rope-and-harness teams, must be called in to help collect all the needed information.
More than a few estimators have climbed on a roof, balanced a clipboard on a ridge, and reached for the tape measure, just as a gust of wind sent the clipboard skittering down and off the roof. I’ve even heard of an estimator who had his ladder stolen while he was on a roof. Safety, accuracy, and efficiency are always top concerns when visiting a loss site.
Over the years we’ve worked hard to help make onsite scoping easier. We’ve pioneered and introduced tablet-based computing, voice-activated computing, integration with Disto measuring devices, and much more.
But I’m most excited about what I think are huge steps forward with our recent introduction of XactScope and Aerial Sketch. XactScope is a smart-phone app that allows estimators to use a phone on site to enter scope items that can be downloaded to Xactimate. The new Aerial Sketch feature allows estimators to dimension a roof using aerial photos.
The possibilities are dramatic. For example, after a hail storm, estimators can dimension all the roofs they plan to visit before leaving the office. The roof plans can be sent to XactScope on their smart phones. On site they can specify damaged slopes by tapping them, use illustrations to select the correct shingle, and download the estimate to Xactimate.
On total losses, such as the homes recently destroyed by wildfire in Texas, the photos can provide detail about the structure such as the type of roofing and exterior finishes. The location of dormers, intersecting roofs, and plumbing penetrations can also provide important clues about the location of interior rooms.
Steep roofs, multi-story roofs, slippery roofs, fragile roofs, and unsound roofs, can now be navigated from the safety of an office chair, and even the most complex roofs are amazingly fast to dimension. I believe these new onsite scoping features will have a significant impact on the speed and safety of many types of estimates.