With the arrival of the 2014 storm season, there are numerous articles in the national and local media about the steps consumers should take to prepare for a hurricane, tornado or other storm-related disaster. But no one seems to discuss the need for insurance carriers to make their own advance preparations in the event of a flood of claims.
Following Hurricane Sandy in October 2012, countless homeowners waited weeks to see their first insurance carrier representative. From our work in the Mid-Atlantic region for both homeowners and business owners, it appears that the carriers were simply overwhelmed by the magnitude of the disaster.
One of the keys to successfully managing an unexpected flow of claims is implementing a technology platform that gives carriers and adjusters access to vital information in real time from locations in the field. A password-protected portion of the platform can be set up for claimants so they can also keep track of what’s happening.
Technology is really the key for carriers to maximize the use of limited human resources following a major disaster. It also helps carriers avoid the liability issues associated with bringing in new adjusters. Whenever a major storm hits, adjusters storm the area from all over the country representing both carriers and policyholders.
Although most states, counties and cities advocate storm preparedness for their residents, the governments themselves are woefully unprepared to regulate that flow of new claims adjusters. Governors will hastily enter new orders, and rogue adjusters are right there to take advantage of desperate policyholders. Meanwhile, independent and company adjusters are assigned so many files they can’t find the time to properly handle a claim.
That lack of experienced and trained adjusters is compounded by the limited communications abilities of most carriers. Why can’t carriers bring in their own mobile command centers with telecommunications equipment like federal and state emergency management teams? That’s another reason the claims process bogs down after a disaster.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, independent and company adjusters had to schedule appointments well in advance, requiring policyholders to block off many hours of the day and sit idle at the location of a destroyed home and business with no ability to check in on the adjuster’s status or expected arrival time. That’s hardly a recipe for building good policyholder relationships.
In contrast, GlobalPro Recovery, as a small-family owned business, had the human resource capabilities, software and systems in place in advance of Sandy to continuously communicate with its adjusters around the clock even in the worst areas where there were no cell towers. Through a combination of two-way radios, our state-of-the-art software system and text messages, our clients were always kept in the loop and knew exactly what to expect.