Filed Under:Claims, Catastrophe & Restoration

Facing devastation head-on

Opinion: Multiple hurricanes, earthquakes and wildfires affect restoration efforts

Hurricanes hit parts of Texas, most of Florida, the Caribbean, Georgia, and North and South Carolina. (Photo: American Technologies, Inc.)
Hurricanes hit parts of Texas, most of Florida, the Caribbean, Georgia, and North and South Carolina. (Photo: American Technologies, Inc.)

The amount of destruction seen in recent weeks due to multiple hurricanes, a major earthquake and aggressive wildfires is staggering.

Some of the damage will be covered by insurance, but sadly, a large portion of it will not be, leaving owners and renters to pay out of pocket, try to obtain funding from the government or other sources, or suffer major losses that will not be recouped.

Shortage of knowledgeable adjusters


There are several issues that will make the recovery more challenging. The shortage of knowledgeable catastrophe adjusters will cause some delays in determining what is or isn't covered at many loss sites.

Even as adjusters from outside of Texas, Florida and other impacted areas arrive to lend their expertise, there will be a definite learning curve involving the structures being assessed, as well as determining what is covered under the National Flood Insurance Program or other insurance.

A single large loss like Hurricane Harvey would be sustainable, but the addition of the wildfires and Hurricanes Irma, Maria and Jose will highlight any shortages and supply chain issues in the process.

Preferred vendors unavailable


Insurers will also find that many of their preferred vendors are unavailable or stretched near or beyond capacity because of the amount of damage impacting much of the U.S. and the Caribbean. Policyholders anxious to return their lives and homes as close to normal as possible will not be willing to wait until a preferred vendor can get to them — creating opportunities for new vendors to enter the process or for fraudsters to take advantage of the situation.

Related: KCC estimates insured losses from Hurricane Maria will be $30 billion

The sheer number of individuals filing claims will keep adjusters and claims managers inundated with work for months to come. Property claims, business interruption claims, travel claims and auto claims are just the beginning.

Opportunity to serve policyholders


For many, this will be the first time they have ever filed a claim and they will be unfamiliar with the process, what information is needed, their responsibilities and how people might try to take advantage of the situation.

These disasters provide insurers with an opportunity to serve their policyholders, and many are providing funds to support those impacted by these events through a wide range of charities, proving they are willing to do whatever they can to help residents weather these storms.

Patricia L. Harman (pharman@alm.com) is editor-in-chief of Claims magazine. Opinions expressed are the author's own.

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