International Adjusting conference faces up to the communications challenge when dealing with catastrophe claims

12 June 2014 —
ifaaCommunications have never been more important - or more complex - when dealing with catastrophe claims delegates at the International Federation of Adjusting Associations 5th Educational Conference were told.

"This is the age of instant communication", Phil GODWIN, Senior Claims Manager at LLOYD's told the conference in London last week. "We need to be very alert to the demands this places on us when dealing with catastrophes. For instance, we need to factor in how we will deal with social media which has grown in importance in the last few years".

Felipe HOETZ, the new IFAA President, representing ALOSI in Chile, underlined this from his experience of the recent severe earthquakes in his country. He said the Chilean insurance association quickly realized the key role social media would play in communicating with people who were affected and so it set up a team to monitor the main social media channels and respond directly using them.

The complexity of the communication challenge was a key theme of the panel session too.

Spencer CLARK, Managing Director of Concordia Chartered Loss Adjusters, identified several national and international political challenges faced by adjusters and insurers responding to catastrophe claims. CLARK highlighted the difficulties encountered with reinsurance recoveries and the importance of insurance companies working with governments to recover claims costs wherever possible.

Mike JONES, Chief Operating Officer of GAB Robins, said that the way the recent UK floods developed a political dimension made them very different to other major claims in the UK: "We had to learn very quickly as an industry how to respond to significant political intervention, even as the situation on the ground was still developing."

The London riots of 2011 had thrown up another communication challenge that the insurance industry needs to deal with better said Jonathan CLARK, Head of Business Solutions & Syndicate Claims Management at SCOR's UK branch: "There are 26 languages in Tottenham where the riots started and insurers sent people who were fluent in just one of them".

HOETZ said the language problem can be a major challenge when dealing with catastrophes: "As soon as I was nominated by my company as the lead person in Chile for the earthquake my inbox was full of messages from the overseas owners of businesses based in Chile. I had messages in all sorts of languages including Chinese, Arabic and some I didn't even know what they were".

The president of the UK's Chartered Institute of Loss Adjusters, Candy HOLLAND stressed the need for effective communication through the duration of a claim: "Loss adjusters are fantastic at first response and most people really appreciate that. From the policyholder view when the claim progresses they can feel they are left out in the cold. We need to ensure the communication remains very good all the way through the claims process".

The IFAA is a global federation of loss adjusting organizations with representatives from 13 countries. (www.theifaa.net). Its 5th Educational Conference took place at the Willis Building in Lime Street, London on Friday 6 June.

David Worsfold
david@worsfoldmedia.com

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