BC wildfires: Social media is key for client communication

Social platforms come into their own during a time of catastrophe

BC wildfires: Social media is key for client communication

Risk Management News

By Bethan Moorcraft

Brokers from across Canada have descended on British Columbia to assist victims of the ongoing wildfires in the province.

So far, the catastrophic fires have forced more than 14,000 people to flee their homes and the province is on stand-by for further mass evacuations.

The exact damage of the wildfires cannot be calculated until the situation is brought under control and loss adjusters can get to work. Thoughts of the industry will surely be pointing back to the Fort McMurray wildfires, which cost insurers around $3.6 billion.

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Some evacuees will have escaped their homes knowing there will be little left once the fires have done their work, while others will be struggling with the agony of the unknown. One certainty is that everyone involved will need to consider their insurance policies before getting their lives back on track.

But how can brokers communicate with clients who have been displaced from their homes and are difficult to contact?

“Social media is really important,” said Marie Schultz, communications consultant at Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI).

“Sites like Facebook and Twitter are an excellent way to communicate with clients and the media in a time of catastrophe. They allow us to make regular updates and answer people’s questions as quickly as possible,” Shultz told Insurance Business. “Situations can sometimes blow out of proportion on social media, but we can use these channels to reassure people and make sure the correct information is out there.

“In a live situation like this, brokers should be using every channel possible to communicate with and reassure clients. They should be telling them what expenses can be claimed and how to live in the meantime if they have been evacuated from their homes.”

Mass evacuation expenses feature in most SGI home insurance policies but are still subject to deductibles. Clients who are displaced from their homes should live on a reasonable (normal) budget and keep receipts for when the claims process gets started, said Shultz. Clients can also start to make lists of things that need to be replaced in order to help the next step of the insurance process run more smoothly.

Help is not just there for the victims – brokers can also tap in for updates and information.

“Good communication is one of our priorities at SGI,” said Shultz. “The broker sells our product for us so we keep them up to step in everything that’s happening. If the broker needs advice in a situation like this, they can get in touch too. We have a broker partnership where they can discuss any queries they have before communicating that back to the client.”

Related stories:
Insurance industry responds to BC wildfires, helps affected locals
BC and Alberta’s insurance rates to increase following wildfires, floods: IBC

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