When a puff back in the chimney of the home of the CEO of a Rhode Island manufacturing company caused extensive damage throughout his family’s elegant 7,200-square-foot Colonial home, his claims adjuster faced a complex case: the smoke damage to the decorative painting on the living room walls would require careful restoration, while the cleaning of a collection of 19th century books would call for an entirely different expert.
The entire repair would take several weeks to complete, and while the home may have been technically “habitable,” it would not be appropriate for the seven-year-old son of the CEO who suffers from asthma. Finding appropriate and comparable alternative accommodations would become one of the greatest challenges for the adjuster in this case.
Living Without Limitations?
Coverage can differ markedly, particularly between standard carriers that serve consumers with conventional needs and specialist carriers that cater to successful families with more sophisticated ones. Standard carriers generally cap “loss of use” coverage, or coverage “D” on ISO forms, at 20 percent of the dwelling limit. Following a major or total loss, these funds can run out quickly, especially when impacted families are trying to maintain their normal standard of living.
However, the town’s zoning commission and the local authorities responsible for the approval of works on a historic property were not as accommodating. Because of the additional regulatory approvals, a nine-month construction project resulted in an 18-month stay for the doctor and his family in the rental home.
Tailored Coverage, Tailored Solutions
While other homes on the market were more flexible in their terms, they did not meet the needs and expectations of the policyholder and his family. Despite an estimated four- to six-month restoration project, the 12-month rental home was deemed to be the most reasonable solution.
ALE After Natural Disasters
Specialist insurers have become adept at negotiating in advance for upscale hotel rooms at pre-determined rates, while simultaneously communicating to policyholders about the challenges that lie ahead. While there are obvious challenges of responding to a disaster with claims professionals and restoration experts, sometimes the greatest challenge is to find an appropriate place for a wealthy family to live in the aftermath.
Providing A Service Touch Point
In a typical claim scenario, there is often a team of insurance specialists working together to resolve the loss: a general property adjuster, an auto specialist if a vehicle has been damaged as part of the loss, a water or fire remediation firm, and a contents specialist. While these roles are focused on settling losses promptly and fairly, the advocates aim to ensure that policyholders receive “white glove” service throughout the process. These individuals manage the additional living expenses portion of a loss from start to finish, including research, vendor management and negotiations, and communication with policyholders.
While adjusters focus on communication with contractors, contents handlers and other service providers as they work to return homes to their original condition, it is often equally as important to ensure that families are cared while repairs and reconstruction efforts are underway. The participation of these advocates also helps to expedite the claims process, increasing efficiency within the department, and improving service for the insured.