Talk to the Loss Adjuster; why communication is key for claims in global programmes
When a loss occurs, clear and timely communication with loss adjusters is vital to ensure claims are resolved successfully. When they are structuring a global programme, insurers work to ensure that there will be clear lines of communication between client, broker, claims specialist and loss adjuster in the event of a loss. Insurers with global reach work with loss adjusters who understand them and their clients’ business. This ensures that claims are handled in a consistent way wherever in the world they occur. Oliver Newick, Global Practice Leader, Energy, Property and Construction Claims at XL Catlin in London and Philippe Hagenbucher, Senior Claims Specialist, Property, at XL Catlin in Zurich, discuss how this process can be made to run smoothly in practice.
Q: What role does the loss adjuster play in the resolution of claims in global programmes in the EU?
Oliver Newick: The loss adjuster plays an extremely important role; the structural complexity of a global programme whereby, for example, there might be an EU Freedom of Services Policy written in, say, Munich, catering for all European territories, and maybe in excess of a further 30 local policies covering other countries, means that efficient organisation and a consistent approach is imperative when it comes to managing a claim. When an insurer that underwrites global programmes partners with a loss adjuster they seek an organisation with a network of global offices and a service ethos that dovetails with their own. Ideally, the insurer has a “point person” within the loss adjuster’s organisation, and similarly within the client’s, so that in the event of a claim the appropriate response can be coordinated. This means there are clear channels of communication and responsibilities.
Q: How can risk managers work with loss adjusters and their insurers to make sure claims are resolved successfully?
Oliver Newick: The best claims outcomes happen when there is real team work. Global programme insurers, and their loss adjusting partners, need to really understand their clients’ business operations, customers and supply chains – before a loss occurs. Loss adjusters must be conscious that in some circumstances the outcome of a claim has implications for the client company’s business or operational strategy. The risk manager, in a sense, has many internal stakeholders to liaise with, and both insurers and loss adjusters must be cognizant of that, ensuring regular and transparent communication is maintained between the parties throughout the entire process. For example, if there is a major fire at a factory in a specific location, the risk manager might be involved in discussions at head office level regarding the feasibility to rebuild in the original location, or whether industry or commercial dynamics make it more beneficial to build a new factory in an entirely different location. Timely and transparent communication about the loss from all parties is vitally important in this decision-making process. If the insurer has a global claims system that captures large amounts of data, this clearly also helps in the successful resolution of claims.
Q: Does the approach differ depending on the client and the nature of the claim?
Philippe Hagenbucher: It is not a one-size-fits-all approach. In the case of very large programmes, insurers often pre-nominate a loss adjuster. For small or medium- sized enterprises, the approach can be slightly different and can require a greater degree of flexibility. If there is a loss in France and the Master Policy is written in Germany, for example, then the claims professionals in both of those countries, together with the risk manager, will discuss the most appropriate way to respond to the claim. Local adjusters will better understand the legislative and cultural dynamics of the marketplace in which they operate. Depending on the nature of the loss, an adjuster with expertise on a specific subject matter may also be more appropriate. Insurers’ claims specialists regularly follow-up with the loss adjusters, and continually liaise with the risk manager throughout the lifetime of the claim. A good example of this happening in practice was when a Swiss-based client suffered a major loss at its regional headquarters in Australia as a result of a powerful storm. The claim was significant and involved a number of complexities and stakeholders in various time zones. By connecting the Switzerland-based risk manager and broker together with an Australia-based loss adjuster and forensics experts, the client’s operation was swiftly back in business and the claim resolved within a year.
Q: How important is communication to the successful resolution of claims?
Oliver Newick: Communication throughout the lifecycle of any claim is absolutely key. Insurers work with risk managers and loss adjusters up front to ensure that there is a clear understanding of what will happen in the event of a claim. The communication chain may involve a local broker, lead broker, and local and master claims specialists. For the client it often extends well beyond the risk manager to finance teams, plant and operations managers, contractors – and even CEOs. It is extremely important that the loss adjuster understands the insurer’s relationship with its client – and good communication is a vital component of that relationship. For example, if a very large multinational suffers a loss, that individual claim may not exceed the client’s self-insured retention. In such cases, the insurer and adjuster are working together to manage a claim that isn’t even the insurer’s money. So the relationship between client and insurer is extremely important, as is making sure everyone understands the structure of the programme and the client’s business. When global programmes involve a captive, there is a particular need for effective communication and coordination. For example, the captive manager needs timely information about when to set up loss reserves and the management of cash calls. While the physical response to any given claim may differ, consistent and transparent communication remains key. It helps to build trust and respect between all the parties not just during the lifetime of a claim but into the future.