America was “punched in the face” by two catastrophic hurricanes in quick succession – in the words of Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn.
Florida is currently recovering from the wrath of Hurricane Irma, a devastating storm that claimed lives and left nearly four million people without power, spurring mass evacuations from the state.
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Meanwhile, Texas and Louisiana are just starting to lick their open wounds after Hurricane Harvey wreaked havoc as one of the most economically impactful storms in modern US history.
Thousands had their homes destroyed by Harvey – and the insurance operation underway is massive. One insurer playing a significant role in the Texas area is Farmers
Insurance and company spokesman, Trevor Chapman, told Insurance Business about the trials of the past week.
“Dealing with such a catastrophic event like Harvey has been difficult, but our main concern has and continues to be our customers,” Chapman said. “We’ve increased staffing in our contact centers to handle the influx of claims calls.
“Serving our customers remains our top priority. As an organization, we have a large presence in Texas and our main concern is with those who have been affected by Harvey.”
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As of Friday (September 09), Farmers
had received just over 37,000 Harvey-related claims across all lines of business, of which nearly half were homeowners’ claims. This number is likely to increase, so the extra hard work is only just beginning for the firm. The company should have a total claims forecast or cost later this week, according to Chapman.
“It can take time to gain access to the large impacted area. In some catastrophes, it can take three to six days or more to assess the damage,” said Chapman. “Even after access is granted it can be difficult to enter a customer’s home due to debris. The safety of both customers and employees is our highest priority.”
One factor that has significantly helped Farmers
in its handling of the Harvey situation is its new relationship with Kespry, according to Chapman. The use of aerial technology has “greatly increased” the company’s efficiency.
“As this is the first major hurricane in nearly a decade, technology is expediting our response. This is also the first major catastrophe where we’ve deployed drones,” added Chapman. “Efficiency is greatly increased with the use of drones, accelerating the claims filing process and providing dedicated resources to our customers.
“Our focus will be to leverage this technology to assist with our claim assessments and we believe our new drone program will help improve response time and safety for our claim representatives during their evaluations.”
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