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Tuesday, 01 September 2020 17:52

Handling Catastrophe Claims in a COVID-19 World

Written by Patricia L. Harman, PropertyCasualty360
The lights of the city of Lake Charles, LA, are just visible in the near calm of the eye of Hurricane Laura as it made landfall. The Category 4 hurricane traveled inland through Texas and Louisiana.  The lights of the city of Lake Charles, LA, are just visible in the near calm of the eye of Hurricane Laura as it made landfall. The Category 4 hurricane traveled inland through Texas and Louisiana.  Forensic Weather Consultants

Index

According to the latest forecast from Colorado State University (CSU), it’s going to be a busy hurricane season, and we’ve already seen evidence of that along the East and Gulf coasts.

CSU is predicting 24 named storms, with 12 of them developing into hurricanes and five of them evolving into major hurricanes that will reach Category 3 or higher on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Hurricane Laura left a path of devastation as the Category 4 storm ran across parts of eastern Texas and Louisiana on Aug. 27.

 

In a world that has already been rocked by the coronavirus, the prospect of managing hurricanes, wildfires, riot damage and other major catastrophes takes on new significance with social distancing and so many unknowns about the transmission of the virus. Any insureds caught up in a catastrophe will already be sheltering in place due to COVID-19; if that safe place is lost or damaged, their resiliency will be shattered.

 

How will these changes and challenges affect insurers, vendors and other first responders to catastrophes? More importantly, how can they protect their policyholders while still providing the service they expect? The short answer is: it’s complicated.

 

“Like most individuals, insurers have responded differently to the COVID-19 environment for a number of reasons,” said Scott Richardson, Sedgwick executive vice president, operations, in an email interview. “While some have become increasingly reluctant to send either staff or independent adjusters on-site in order to social distance and protect both their colleagues and insureds, others recognize it is part of doing business and supporting their insureds during these critical times of need. This can vary depending on the book of business and industry vertical they support.”

 

Allen Owens, CEO and president of Paul Davis Restoration & Remodeling of Greater Baltimore (PDR), shared via email that even before COVID-19, “the [restoration] industry at large adhered to safe work practices but did so behind the scenes and without much oversight.

 

"The pandemic has brought to light all of the steps along the critical path. Companies that were previously skilled/experienced with biohazards before the pandemic have separated themselves from the pack.”


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