Changing the dynamics of the property claims experience
Since 1990, Mark Evans, Head of XL Catlin’s Property, Energy and Construction claims in North America, has managed claims from some of the insurance industry’s largest property loss events – 9/11, Katrina, the 1994 North Ridge earthquake, and Thailand’s 2011 floods -- to name a few. Last year’s hurricane season also kept him and his team very busy. Despite his heavy workload, Mark is always thinking about ways to improve the claims experience for our clients. After all, that’s when the value of insurance is truly demonstrated. According to Mark, suffering a property loss is already a traumatic experience, so the claims experience should not aggravate the situation. And he believes it really doesn’t have to. In fact, for XL Catlin’s property clients, he’s looking to change the whole working dynamic. Here he explains how and why.
Why do many clients look at the claims experience with trepidation?
Evans: Submitting an insurance claim makes some clients shudder for a couple of reasons. They fear a battle ahead. Sadly, some have a perception that it is their insurer’s intent to find any possible way to deny a claim. Having been in the claims industry for more than 25 years, I can attest that’s not the case. As claims professionals, we look to honor the insurance contract that our company has entered into with a client. We’re out to honor the deal that was struck. And that’s that why it’s so important for all of us – both on personal and business levels -- to understand what coverage our insurance policies afford. Having seen our share of claims across industries, and in different circumstance, we can also share our experience to help clients learn and prepare to avoid a loss as much as we can help manage a claim for one that has occurred.
Another reason why clients are wary of the claims process is that they are suddenly forced to work with people they don’t know. It’s not uncommon for a client to meet their claims team for the first time after a loss occurs. How then can they be assured that this team has their best interest at heart when they haven’t even met them? It takes time to build trust and develop an effective working relationship, both of which are key to collaborating to resolve a claim effectively and efficiently.
That’s why our claims team works closely with our underwriting team - often meeting clients as part of the underwriting process and staying in touch on a regular basis.
For one thing, we like to establish open dialogue with our clients from the start. We don’t want to be the team that just shows up when something bad happens."
How are you and your team looking to change the experience?
Evans: We hope we are already starting to change this dynamic. For one thing, we like to establish open dialogue with our clients from the start. We don’t want to be the team that just shows up when something bad happens. We want to have discussions along the way, throughout their policy period. Not only does this build mutual trust, it allows us to spot problem areas - perhaps coverage gaps that might only otherwise become evident after a loss.
For instance, June 1 is the start of hurricane season in North America. When a storm system forms, we’ll be following it closely, and if it nears land, we’ll be in touch with clients in its potential path to see how we, along with our property risk engineers and underwriters, can help them prevent damage.
To accomplish real change, it’s also critical for us to have the right people in place to develop strong client relationships. We’ve devoted considerable time and attention to building our team, looking for seasoned claims people that can both leverage traditional claims technical expertise and demonstrate empathy and a deep understanding of our clients’ needs and the market. This is what really helps us to deliver better outcomes to our clients.
How will changing your clients’ perception of the claims experience help you do your job better?
Evans: Timely engagement can have a significant impact on the outcome of a claim. For instance, quick notification of a claim allow us to get an adjuster out to the affected property to get the recovery process initiated and, to the extent possible, help mitigate the loss and its impact on our client’s business. We really saw this approach deliver benefits during the 2017 series of natural catastrophes.
We responded swiftly to brokers’ and clients’ needs in the aftermath of large catastrophes such as hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, as well as the earthquakes in Mexico and wildfires in California – helping our clients get back up and running as quickly as possible. We paid out hundreds of millions of dollars in covered claims within days of requests and, in some cases, began the adjustment, prior to any formal loss notice from the client or broker.
Timely notifications paid off big during last year’s hurricane season. What other lessons did you learn from the 2017 hurricane season?
Evans: We also learned the value of tried and true, boots-on-the-ground claims services. In Puerto Rico, for instance, power outages prevented a lot of new claims technologies from being implemented timely. Having strong working relationships with local adjusters and a staff of Loss Prevention Consultants, on the island allowed us to get them deployed and out to our clients’ impacted properties right away. They relied on cell service, when and where they could get it, to send pictures and other information that we needed to service claims. But the important thing was that they were there at our clients’ facilities almost immediately. That’s our kind of responsiveness.
How you and your team preparing for this season named storms?
Evans: There are several different forecasts for the 2018 hurricane season. For the most part, the season is supposed to bring between 10-18 named storms with upwards of 6-8 reaching hurricane status. Whatever the season brings, we’ll be ready for it. Again, we’ll be watching storms as they form and helping clients do whatever they can to protect their property and understand their coverage. And, should a claim result, we’ll strive to reach a resolution that honors the coverage they bought as quickly as possible. That’s our promise and what we call getting our clients from Stop to Go.
About Mark: Given his intense experience managing complex commercial property claims – he’s a good person to know when a loss occurs. He’s an even better person to have a conversation with before a loss occurs. See why. Reach out to him at firstname.lastname@example.org or +1 860 293 7775.
To learn more about XL Catlin’s personalized approach to commercial property insurance, DOWNLOAD OUR BROCHURE HERE.