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Hartford to Issue Emergency Claim Card

Working with JPMorgan Chase, The Hartford plans to provide debit cards with cash allowances to meet emergency needs of policyholders affected by natural and man-made disasters.

In anticipation of the next major hurricane-related catastrophe event, The Hartford Financial Services (Hartford) has partnered with JPMorgan Chase (New York, $1 trillion in assets) to provide property insurance policyholders with "Emergency Claim Cards" as an alternative funds transfer mechanism to meet catastrophe-related initial expenses.

The Hartford Electronic Claim Card is a debit card, issued by JPMorgan Chase, that can be used at ATM to withdraw cash or at stores that accept debit cards for purchases, according to a joint Hartford/JPMorgan Chase source. The Hartford's claim handlers will issue the cards directly to customers at a site located as near as possible to a catastrophe site. The claim handlers will determine the amount of money to be allocated to a given customer and will have the card activated within a few hours of issue.

During a natural or man-made catastrophe, policyholders may not be able to receive a check at their addresses or direct deposit to their bank accounts, notes Vittoria Pace, assistant vice president, P&C field operations, The Hartford. "Not everybody is comfortable providing their personal banking information, so the idea of a point of sale or debit card became another offering we thought would be attractive to our insureds," she says.

The card transaction takes advantage of existing technology applications on the part of both the carrier and its banking partner. "We didn't need to develop an extensive new interface or data feed to JPMorgan Chase in order to facilitate the process," Pace remarks. The Hartford captures the necessary data to activate the card through its Alternative Payment Web tool, according to Jeff Rehor, assistant vice president and controller of The Hartford's claim finance group. The carrier plans to have a process in place by mid-July whereby claim handlers will enter information to initiate the transaction. "But then, through controls we have in place, those transactions will be approved and activate by another set of individuals at The Hartford," Rehor explains. The delay is not anticipated to exceed six hours.

JPMorgan Chase sees the Emergency Claim Card as an extension of its long-standing disaster preparedness business, which provides such solutions as emergency payroll services for circumstances such as hurricanes or other catastrophes. "We've been working with such programs for a number of years, and now I think you're seeing that in the insurance industry with regard to how [carriers] can be better prepared to deliver relief to their policyholders," says Greg Kerwick, global sales for emerging payments, JPMorgan Chase.

Neither The Hartford nor JPMorgan Chase would talk about the terms of their partnership, but Kerwick commented that, "The Hartford sees this as a cost-effective way to deliver high-quality customer service to their policyholders."

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Anthony O'Donnell has covered technology in the insurance industry since 2000, when he joined the editorial staff of Insurance & Technology. As an editor and reporter for I&T and the InformationWeek Financial Services of TechWeb he has written on all areas of information ... View Full Bio

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