Wild weather and wild fires continue across the country and it seems 2011 is on its way to becoming one of the worst years on record for catastrophic loss to U.S. homes and businesses. A recent story in the Alabama Press Register examining recovery efforts from the April tornadoes that struck the Birmingham, Mobile and Huntsville areas illustrates how large loss catastrophes expose persistent kinks in the insurance claims process – specifically in the handling of contents and settlement payments. Contents inventories often pose the biggest obstacle to swift and accurate settlements, which is evident from the following statement from an insurance carrier spokesperson quoted in the article:
“Unfortunately, those forms (inventory forms) have to be filled out. We don’t know what you had in your house. We’re putting the responsibility on you because it’s your property. You tell us what you want to make a claim for.”
The good news for carriers, adjusters and insureds is that software solutions and services from companies like Enservio are available today to help alleviate this burden. Enservio has field inventory specialists who can conduct contents inventories on behalf of the insured, entering the contents details directly into a database for calculating contents valuations. This service helps the adjuster focus on other aspects of the claim and provides the insured with the peace of mind that they are in the capable hands of a contents inventory expert.
The Alabama Press Register story also covered the frustrations insured often experience while awaiting settlement payments. Delays are going to happen when so many homes and businesses are severely damaged in the same area, but there are new payment solutions available today that can accelerate the process – replacing paper checks with pre-paid debit cards, for example. Pre-paid debit cards can be processed more quickly than paper checks. They also eliminate the delays that come with waiting for paper checks to clear at the bank before the cash is available. With cards, insured have the flexibility to shop online or in actual stores to replace lost contents items. Insureds can even use the cards to withdraw cash from ATMs if they decide it is cash they need rather than a particular replacement item. (See more on this topic in an article by Enservio’s Jon McNeill – Taking Contents Claims to the Next Level with Contents 2.0.)
We’ll get through this tough year, and as more carriers implement advanced contents claims solutions available on the market today, some of the kinks in the insurance claims process will be unraveled, leading to swifter and more accurate settlements to the benefit of adjusters, carriers and the insured.