America is reeling from two of its most significant catastrophe events in recent history. Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have racked up billions in damages – a lot of it uninsured – and they have turned the lives of thousands of people upside down.
Meanwhile, on the western side of the country, states have been battling a more fiery foe. Record temperatures and drought conditions have led to wide-ranging wildfires, with Montana and Oregon being two of the worst affected states.
Once catastrophe strikes, the only thing insurance brokers can do is work with clients to ensure their safety and set the claims process rolling. But there are services brokers can make the most of before a catastrophe situation, according to Bill Gatewood, corporate vice president and director of personal insurance, Burns & Wilcox.
Search and compare product listings for insurance against a Catastrophe from specialty market providers here
“There are lots of insurance companies out there providing loss prevention services that brokers should really take advantage of,” Gatewood told Insurance Business
. “There are sophisticated tracking and communication mechanics that insurance companies have in place to track catastrophes like hurricanes and wildfires and send out alerts.
“If they see adverse weather approaching, they know which customers are in the danger zones and they’re sending out alerts to insurance brokers and their customers to help them prepare for catastrophe. For example, a lot of insurance companies have their own wildfire protection units and fire departments.”
Celebrate excellence in insurance. Join us at the Insurance Business Awards in Chicago on October 26.
These fire departments can be deployed ahead of a catastrophe event to apply risk mitigation tools, such as covering homes in fire-hazard areas with fire retardant foam, and stripping back bush areas. Similarly, insurers have teams of experts available to provide loss prevention advice before major storms.
“So, there are lots of hurricane evacuation services, wildfire protection services, and post-catastrophe communication methods that insurance companies can assist brokers with,” said Gatewood. “Brokers just need to take advantage of it – but too often, I don’t think they are.
“Insurance brokers aren’t enrolling their clients in these catastrophe prevention services – and it’s a shame because lots of them are free. Insurance companies would much rather pay a little bit of money to prevent a loss, than pay a lot of money after a loss.”
The loss prevention services available on the market are effective and creative, according to Gatewood. It’s now down to brokers to learn about these services and make sure their clients are signed up for them.
BC wildfires horrific but won't cause blip for insurance industry
Canadian adjusters boots on the ground in Florida