The topic of climate change is rapidly rising in prominence on the global public agenda.

And, as the world experiences endless parades of catastrophes and significant events on top of the pandemic, claims surge events have become increasingly frequent.  

We’ve seen a variety of insurable events, from catastrophes, weather events, travel interruptions, volcanic eruptions, fuel contamination events, recessions, and even the collapse of major insurers.

Disasters are going to happen, and now more than ever people are finding themselves in the path of nature’s wrath – and it’s up to the insurance industry to be ready. 

Having the right people with the right training ready is critical for protecting your business and your customers – as is approaching every surge event with a growth mindset.

A current example of ‘being ready’ is EQC’s recently announced partnership with insurers that will provide an improved, more collaborative approach to supporting New Zealanders through natural disasters in the future.

Under the new partnership, from the second quarter of 2021 anyone with home insurance whose home or land is damaged in a natural disaster will only need to lodge one claim through their private insurer.

Preparation before the event is paramount and businesses can manage this risk by partnering with specialists.

Gallagher Bassett calls on insurers to get ready for increased claims capacity and has outlined a roadmap for staying above water in, and ahead of, the next high-pressure surge event. 

Preparation - know your team

•    Team hours and flexibility - Are you appropriately resourced for a surge? Do those surge teams have the right training and the right level of empathy to support your customers – and your business?

•    Talk to your customers - In the Covid climate, people are tuning out, so you’ll need to work a little harder for customers to hear your warnings about emergency preparedness. But pre-event communications are critical, and never a waste of time. Always take the opportunity when talking to your customers to check-in – is their level and type of coverage appropriate? It’s not always about selling your latest package, but about listening to ensure their package is the best fit.

•    Capability - understand your team, and your technology. Make assessments of your people and their capability to support your business and your customers – audit their empathy, skill, and knowledge. Understand if they have the expertise, experience, and the right stance to cope in a high-pressure environment. Equally, appointing battle-tested leaders with experience in a surge response ahead of time will pay off in the long-term.

Manage the moment

•    Manage expectations - communicate early and often.

•    Keep it personal – understand that this is often a highly stressful time 

•    Offer Expertise – know what you are talking about. Guide, Guard, Go Beyond.

•    Understand Claim Flow – explain and set expectations as to claim process and next steps

•    Stay close to the supply chain - keep communication open and cultivate relationships with suppliers to keep the supply chain flowing, right down to availability of materials for reparations.

•    Stay ahead of bottle necks - they can happen anywhere so keep your eyes open and train all levels of your team to do the same.

Be pragmatic, not expedient

There’s a tendency in the surge environment to become expedient in decision making, which can lead to trouble down the road. There’s a difference between being pragmatic to get things done and being expedient to get things done.

While it’s important to be agile, in high-pressure moments it’s critical to stick to what you know works for the business. Streamlining procedures is possible, but don’t go against proven processes.

Capture the learnings

•    Capture live, dynamic learning - It’s critical to take note of learnings throughout the surge process. Make sure your team knows where to catalogue actions that worked, or didn’t work, well.

•    Don't let the issues control you - learning from mistakes is the best way to ensure those issues don’t control how your business is perceived, or responds, in the future.

•    Make time for the future - if you don’t start preparing for a better future now, your business could face more challenges in the long-term.

March 2021

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