December 22, 2021 | Jay Guden, Vice President of Business Operations

Leverage Text Messaging to Manage Catastrophic Events

Hurricanes, severe storms, tornadoes and wildfires—natural disasters are responsible for a tremendous amount of damage every year. Between 2019 and 2023, 102 catastrophic events in the US resulted in $612.3 billion in loss. And, with 2024 on track to be exceptionally severe, managing catastrophic events is top of mind for insurance carriers.

When disaster strikes, carriers want to help policyholders get back on their feet. Whether it’s proactive notifications, submitting a claim or asking questions, text messaging has many benefits for both policyholders and insurance carriers. Offering text messaging during catastrophic events allows policyholders to contact their insurer anytime, from anywhere and get support and answers quickly in a time of need.

Better Resource Management for Leaders

I spent several years managing large claims centers and have experienced how call volume can double or sometimes even triple during catastrophic events. First Notice of Loss (FNOL) is the first step in the claims process. To keep up with the number of claims and provide fast, efficient service, carriers must offer alternative channels for people to report the FNOL in events where large numbers of people are being impacted.

Earlier and Better Claim Triage

With text messaging, insureds can report damage to their home or automobile via text and provide all the information needed to open the claim. The policyholder can use their phone to easily document damage, share files, coordinate appointments and site visits with adjusters and keep the claims moving forward, saving costs and improving cycle times.

Typically, in a catastrophic event, adjusters will receive a verbal account of the loss, and it is often difficult to accurately judge the severity. With text messaging, claimants can snap and share a photo at the time of FNOL, enabling carriers to gauge the scope of the catastrophic event earlier in the process. This understanding allows supervisors to balance the load and efficiently deploy adjuster resources in the catastrophic area and expedited triage of losses. The carrier can also facilitate express claim payments and improve coordination with third-party service providers like restoration companies.

Florida-based Bankers Insurance is no stranger to catastrophic events. And after a year that brought two of the worst hurricanes in recent history – Harvey and Irma – Bankers wanted to ensure they were better equipped to assist their customers during the next hurricane season and implemented Hi Marley’s text messaging platform. “We recognized the potential of Hi Marley’s platform to provide value to both our customers and our Claims team, particularly during a catastrophe,” said Steve Messina, SVP of Insurance Operations at Bankers Insurance, in this story.

Proactive Policyholder Notifications, Improved Metrics

Carriers, like Bankers, can mitigate loss exposure and protect policyholders by sending proactive notifications via text messaging about tips and checklists to prepare for a catastrophic event before it occurs. The outreach can also include real-time updates and ways to report damage to avoid long call center queues and phone tag with adjusters.

When the next major storm, Hurricane Florence, was on the horizon, Bankers utilized text messaging to contact their customers to share preparation tips. Policyholders hit by the storm could file claims easily and quickly share pictures and videos depicting the extent of damage to the covered property via text, which were used to triage losses immediately. Leveraging Hi Marley during Hurricane season, Bankers reduced average days-to-contact and days-to-inspect by more than 50 percent. Additionally, claims closed within 30 days jumped from just two percent to 30 percent. They also received tremendous customer feedback.

Ease of Use for Policyholders

With Hi Marley’s text messaging platform, policyholders don’t need to worry about downloading another app or learning a new tool during an already stressful time. They have the option to communicate with the insurance carrier in their pocket at any time via text and receive push notifications to stay informed on the process.

QBE North America, for example, experienced the benefits of using text during the 2018 California wildfires that destroyed many policyholders’ landlines, along with the rest of their homes. Although claims professionals couldn’t call the policyholders on the telephone, with Hi Marley, they could text their customers struggling with the devastation, which was a huge relief. As a result, customer satisfaction scores averaged 4.6 out of 5, with many positive comments.

“Everything we do is with our customers in mind. The claims environment has evolved, and we are responding to customers who have become accustomed to receiving information in real-time, on a mobile device,” said Eric Sanders of QBE North America, in this press release.

Severe weather and natural disasters will continue to cause disruption. When carriers implement the tools that facilitate fast and caring customer service during these large-scale events, they can retain policyholders and help make their reps’ jobs easier, too. Leveraging text messaging to manage catastrophic events helps carriers deliver on their promise to be there for policyholders when they need it most.

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