Bonnie, Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne are names that property and casualty carriers will not soon forget. Uninvited guests, these hurricanes pounded Florida and the Southeast this season, catching many personal line carriers off guard and ill prepared for the ensuing onslaught of claims. Making matters worse, these natural catastrophes arrived with such force, and in such close succession, that many insurance carriers were tested in terms of fulfilling policyholders’ customer service expectations.

The extent to which a cat adversely affects a carrier depends upon a number of factors, including the number of policies in force in the area that has been hit. Some factors, such as the severity of the storm or catastrophic event, are beyond the control of the carrier. Others, however, such as the organization of the carrier’s claim department and the claim-handling processes, can be managed to mitigate a disaster’s impact, from both a customer service and claim-handling cost standpoint.

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