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What’s wrong with this picture?

FirehydrantsI heard a story once that an advertising executive came up with the phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words” for an ad. But he felt he had to attribute it to “a Chinese proverb” so people would take it seriously. Whether that’s a true story or not, at Verisk, we do take it seriously. And we believe that phrase resonates with insurers.

One of the things I hear most often from our customers is the positive reaction to the photographs included in many of our reports. “There’s nothing like seeing it with my own eyes,” they often say. Or “I get a better understanding of the property.” Photos have become an important part of our reports. Exterior and aerial photos are typically included in the Building Underwriting, Property Details, Rating Survey Detail, Building Overview, Workers Compensation, General Liability, and Peril and Incident Reports.

Photos can place you right in the location, allowing you not only to see the subject property but what’s around it as well. Photos give you context. And there’s at least one area where we take it a step further. In our Peril and Incident Report, we combine aerial imagery with our GIS (geographic information system) data on fire hydrants to provide a better picture of the risks.

Here’s a rather extreme example of why our customers often find photos so important. The photo shows a building (blue star) on a golf course, surrounding streets, and, most important for assessing risk, the location of nearby fire hydrants (red). Without the photo, the good news for the underwriter is there are several fire hydrants in close proximity to the property. But the photo reveals the problem: all of the fire hydrants are across a major roadway, making the nearby fire hydrants effectively inaccessible.

It’s a safe bet that every property insurance application in the country has a field on it for “distance to nearest fire hydrant”—as well it should. It’s one of the most important facts about a property when considering fire risk. But being close to a hydrant is largely immaterial if the hydrant is not accessible.

Do all reports available in the market provide this level of detail and visualization? No, but Verisk’s do because we believe a picture is worth a thousand words.

For more information on our Peril and Incident Report, please visit our website.

Sanford Brown

Sanford Brown is an Assistant Vice President, Product Management, and is responsible for Verisk’s services related to workers' compensation, including point-of-sale underwriting reports and site surveys. He can be reached at

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