according to the theoretical storm scenario? Where should on-the-ground
claims catastrophe offices be located
close to the affected area but not in the
line of fire? The team should be able to
identify the number of claims adjusters
needed for the storm, the required skill
level for types of expected claims and
where the claims adjusters will come
from around the country.
4. Line-up vendors in advance: The team
should determine the types of vendor
relationships in the geographic area. If
there are no existing relationships for
the types of claims that could come in,
the team will need to figure out how to
secure them prior to the storm.
5. Tap expertise outside of the claims
department: A mock catastrophe
should also bring in experts from
outside of the claims department
including underwriting, product
development, legal and compliance.
During this discussion, the claims
team can identify major compliance
issues, catastrophe adjuster licensing
rules and highlight regionally specific regulations regarding policy limit
The claims team will need to be
prepared to interpret regulations for
each state and also be aware of any differences in policy form coverage and
language. The information should be
verified in advance and disseminated
to adjusters in the field.
Using Technology to
Assist in Decision Making
As claims teams managers work through
the mock catastrophe scenario, geocoding becomes a crucial piece of the puzzle.
Geocoding provides real-time interactive
mapping of claims locations. This allows
claims teams to use resources efficiently,
have clear oversight of claims management logistics, provide more proactive
claims processing and make informed
decisions in a compressed timeframe.
Having geocoding on all policies across
product lines allows the claims team to
complete an assessment of risk and po-
tential damages prior to a major weather
event. Insurers can see how many expo-
sures there are in a specific area and what
personnel should be available to assess
Challenges and Opportunities
Customer communication: According
to a recent study by Hey Wire Business, 52
percent of consumers would prefer texting
to speaking by phone with a customer service representative. Communication via
text or email allows claims departments
to become more proactive before, during
and after the storm, enabling quicker responses to questions and concerns.
Insurers should also consider communicating through social media. Twitter
and Facebook can be used to help inform
policyholders of an incoming storm and
make them aware of the claims teams in
place in their geographic area. During and
after a storm, insurers should have a plan
in place to actively monitor social media
for customer questions, complaints and
claims. As consumers’ use of social media
accelerates, it is imperative that organizations be prepared in advance of the next
Testing teams: Insurers will benefit
from designing storm scenarios that test
the abilities of claims departments and
focus on both strengths and opportuni-
ties to improve. Mock catastrophes also
ensure that new employees or those tak-
ing on new responsibilities understand
how large claims events are handled.
Different storm, different ball game:
Another factor to consider is the type
of storm being modeled and its specific
challenges. Trial runs can be used to
model hurricanes, blizzards, floods, wildfires, tornados or an ice event. Floods, for
example, can last 7-10 days, including the
time it takes for water to recede from affected areas, so claims teams need to determine the best time to go out to evaluate damage. Wildfires may generate fewer
claims but may result in more total losses.
Ice events can cause widespread power
outages due to downed trees or limbs
causing other types of claims. Even in a
catastrophe scenario, each claim must be
handled on a case by case basis.
Best Practices Make
for Best Results
Mock catastrophes allow claims teams
to develop “muscle memory,” among the
other benefits discussed. Ultimately, they
help claims teams become more proactive
and proficient, which helps customers recover faster when a real disaster strikes.
Heather Bolyard is assistant vice president of claims services and information at
June 17-19, 2015
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