It has been a tricky few months for claims adjusters across the United States. As predicted, the 2020 North Atlantic Hurricane season has been busy, with 23 named storms as of late September, nine of which had made landfall in the US. These events have come at a time of unprecedented social and economic challenges caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic. Some might even go so far as to describe the situation as the perfect storm.
At times like these, claims adjusters must keep their focus and remember the client at the core of the claim, according to Tim Barziza, head of property claims at Chubb. For the Chubb property claims team, it’s been business as usual throughout the pandemic, with the necessary public health and social distancing measures in place. As Barziza put it: “COVID hasn’t slowed us down. Our focus has remained the same, which is to provide a top-notch claims service to our clients.”
Providing that top-notch service has required some creativity and flexibility, especially when dealing with a catastrophic situation like Hurricane Laura, which made landfall as a Category 4 in Louisiana on August 27. While COVID may not have impacted the Chubb team’s ability to service clients, it did force them to take a more strategic approach, Barziza explained, factoring in social distancing, client preference (whether clients were happy or not to receive in-person loss adjustments), and virtual claims adjusting tools.
“We always try to provide options so that we can give the client the comfort they need during the time of a catastrophe,” said Barziza. “It’s bad enough to have something like Hurricane Laura roll through, but to have it compounded with COVID is really tough. We’re just trying to make everything as easy as possible for our clients.
“For catastrophic events like Hurricane Laura, we do have staff and catastrophe teams on the ground, but, at the same time, we’re very mindful of COVID and how people might not be comfortable having in-person inspections. In response to that, we’ve provided alternative options for our clients, including virtual adjustments where clients can show us their damages virtually via a mobile phone application, or even via a video call app like FaceTime.”
For the most part, the Chubb team tried to do most of their inspections for Hurricane Laura-related damages from the exterior, keeping the health and safety of staff and clients front and center. The unit used what Barziza described as “an inside-outside approach,” where they deployed a smaller than usual group of adjusters to the ground and had that group of adjusters focused purely on inspecting. This group were in front of clients, servicing their needs, creating the scope, and then feeding information back to another team of adjusters working at a desk, who then processed the balance of the claims, wrote the estimates, processed payments, and handled documentation, paperwork and so on.
“That inside-outside process is something we’ve worked really hard on, and I think it’s worked very well for us during COVID,” said Barziza. “I think it’s a strategy we will continue to use throughout the rest of this storm season.”
The claims head added: “Whether you’re talking about hurricanes, wildfires or anything else, I really appreciate the way the Chubb team has come together and not let COVID slow us down. Our focus has remained, and will remain, on getting to the claims and servicing clients. That’s really what we’re about, and I’m proud of the team for their strength to be able to do that.
“We understand after an event like Hurricane Laura, any claim is emotional. All claims are stressful for clients. I think that is only enhanced when they’re part of something big like Hurricane Laura, which has impacted an entire geographical area where they live and work. And so, we just really try to focus on being empathetic on the front end, and again, just making the process as easy as we can so that we can get the work done for the client.”