Hurricane Hanna made landfall in Texas on July 22 and the aftermath of the Category 1 hurricane resulted in estimated damages of over $350 million. Eight days later Hurricane Isias, also a Category 1 hurricane, impacted the east coast causing $4.2 billion in damages. Not even a week after, a wind event known as a derecho tore through the Midwest causing an estimated $37.7 million in insured damages.
Back to back weather events are not uncommon. In fact 2017 saw similar weather events and was one of the most costly years on record for property damage. So, what makes these storms unique? Insurance claims made now will be subject to the changes brought on by COVID.
Catastrophic storms require a fast and effective response from insurance companies – two things that are already a challenge when thousands of people have been impacted. COVID has made meeting those demands even harder and has caused insurance carriers to change the way claims are processed.
Virtual Insurance Claim Adjusting
A lack of skilled insurance adjusters in areas with catastrophic damage often leads to out of town and inexperienced adjusters relocating to “help” people recover. As seen with Hurricane Sandy in 2015, inexperienced adjusters and a high number of claims leads to missed damage, longer times to get full claim payments and even underpaid claims. With COVID, carriers have switched to virtual claim adjusting meaning a carriers adjuster may or may not physically inspect the damage. Instead, they use drones and require contractors to show and submit damage photos for the claim.
Insurance carriers requiring repair companies to provide claim documentation has already proven to be a challenge in NJ where several companies are complaining that the “picture game” with carriers leads to a never-ending request for additional photos – doubling or tripling the amount of time spent on a claim.
According to Camille Garcia with the Insurance Council of Texas, “having the contractor who is slated to make repairs show the claims adjuster the damages” reduces the amount of people in the home. While that is good to slow the spread of COVID, it could lead to missed damage or a misinterpretation of the severity of the damage, both of which may lead to payment delays and underpaid claims.
Proper Damage Assessment Is Critical
A proper damage assessment is critical for any job, but especially now when claims are being virtually adjusted. Creating a standardized “damage assessment” protocol for storm damage claims will go a long way in making sure your entire team is on the same page and nothing is missed.
Creating an in-house supplement team will also help save time and energy when it comes to working high volume claims in damaged areas. It is much easier to manage and train one person on how to handle a virtual claim than your entire sales team and hope that everyone gets it right.
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