Advice on managing claims post-Hurricane Harvey

29 August 2017

We have all been touched by the sheer size of the recent Hurricane to hit the US, in particular parts of Texas and Louisiana. Our thoughts and sympathy go out to all those families and businesses affected by the dreadful storm.

According to CNN News, “Harvey's havoc continued to pour down, three days after the storm rammed Texas as a Category 4 hurricane, unleashing a torrent of rain, turning streets into rivers, and leaving thousands of residents stranded in flooded homes.

Harvey, a tropical storm by Tuesday morning with its eye hovering over the Gulf of Mexico, could still dump up to 15 inches of rain on portions of south eastern Texas and south western Louisiana, including the saturated Houston area, where thousands have been rescued and many more still wait for help.”

In the wake of a catastrophe, everyone’s first concern is with the safety of people and their homes.

For business owners, protection of employees will be a key priority.

Businesses will undoubtedly be implementing business continuity plans to mitigate the impact on their operations and maintain/restore business processes. At the same time, if your business has been affected, it is essential to ensure early notification of insurance losses to your broker in order to comply with notification obligations in your insurance policies.

We advise that companies exercise extreme caution when returning to areas that have been impacted; downed electrical lines, debris, and buildings with structural damage can be very dangerous. We recommend you follow the advice of authorities and return only when it is determined safe to do so. 

Once the waters subside and organisations can access their premises again, they can start to assess the damage and its impact on their business. At this time, focus will turn to recovery, damage mitigation, cleaning, repairs and salvaging activities. The insurance claim process - what’s needed, what must they do to ensure a speedy claim payment?.

For businesses trying to get back on their feet and maintain their customers and revenue, having a major insurance claim can be a challenge. 

Here is some important advice that companies can follow to help smooth the claim recovery process:

Immediately after the storm

  • Communicate proactively with staff, customers and suppliers
  • Notify your broker, find out which loss adjusters and other claim specialists the insurers will appoint to investigate your claim
  • You may wish to offer support to staff to compensate for relocation costs as this may be covered through your policy. Please check that your policy includes this cover before incurring costs
  • Nominate someone to lead the claim management strategy and proactively drive the process
  • Set up effective recording and accounting procedures to track all costs and financial losses attributable to the event. Keep all receipts.

Aftermath

  • Ensure you identify and comply with critical policy conditions as this can result in failure to recover your claims. Your broker will help you
  • The onus is on you to fully document and evidence your claim. Check with your broker on the procedure for documentation and claim presentation
  • If you face service interruption, document the incident and its impact on your business with financial proof
  • Ensure you obtain the loss adjuster’s agreement on key mitigation decisions so they are aware of the challenges your business faces
  • Prepare best and worst case cost estimates as soon as feasible. Ballpark figures with plenty of contingencies are better than nothing
  • Communicate any problems, such as supplier timetables, work schedules etc., to the loss adjuster immediately as they become apparent
  • Keep your manuals fully updated with the recovery progress
  • Use your claim preparation coverage and appoint a claims consultant to help you properly document and prepare your claim. Please check that your policy includes this cover before incurring any costs.

The key to a successful claim settlement is to make sure you understand your insurance coverage, be proactive, communicate with the loss adjuster, fully document and explain all the costs – and manage the expectations of all stakeholders. This takes time and effort but will result in a smoother claim process and a better outcome. 

And don’t be afraid to call for support from your brokers claims consultants – that’s what they are there for. 

For further information, please contact Candy Holland, Managing Director on +44 (0) 20 7558 3230 or email candyholland@Echelonccl.com