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Insurers Address Irene's Claims and Business Continuity Challenges

Insurers across the nation used social media channels to reach out to policyholders, while carriers in Irene's path ramped up not only their claims responses but also their business continuity and disaster recovery plans.

The impact of Hurricane Irene in terms of both insured and economic losses remains to be assessed, but insurers across the nation were prepared for the worst. As Irene worked her way up the East Coast, carriers reached out to customers using both traditional means and social media. Carriers based in the vast area affected activated their business continuity plans against the potential impact.

Insurers made heavy use of social media, such as Twitter, to inform policyholders about the storm and their carrier's response. Among it's many tweets, Allstate (Northbrook, Ill.) invited customers to "hear what's happening from our team on the ground," with a link to the insurer's newsroom. Nationwide (Columbus, Ohio) used Twitter to inform policyholders that some of their agents were without power and give policyholders numbers they could call to file claims. Utica National provided a stream of advice and resources via Twitter, both during and after the storm, and invited followers to share stories.

Los Angeles-based Farmers Insurance deployed one of its Mobile Catastrophe Claims buses from Atlanta to the Virginia coast, and locally based insurers activated not only claims response but also business continuity and disaster recovery plans to protect their own employees, facilities, systems and data.

"We activated our business continuity plan and we were in constant communication with members of our crisis and incident management team before and during the event," relates Mark Schussel, a spokesman for Warren, N.J.-based Chubb. "There will also be a debriefing after the event too, from which we can learn and incorporate any learnings into our future planning."

Schussel reports that Chubb's adjusters were dispatched to areas affected by the storm and that the insurer's service centers were fully staffed and functional during and in the aftermath of the event. "We have been taking calls, and we're dispatching mitigation services to our insureds to help them prevent additional damage to their property," Schussel reports.

Main Street America Group's Richmond, Va., office was shut down during a power outage caused by Irene, but that did not affect the P&C carrier's rapid response to Hurricane Irene, according to Mark Friedlander, a spokesman for the Jacksonville, Fla.-based superregional P&C company.

"We have impacted insureds throughout the Southeast, Mid-Atlantic, New England and Northeast regions and are providing them with the superior level of service they expect from us when suffering a loss from a major storm," Friedlander comments. "We have adjusters on the ground in all impacted states."

Mike Anselmo, CIO of Pawtucket, R.I.-based Narragansett Bay Insurance Company (NBIC) was one of many associates of the company who intermittently lost power at home. "The home office remained up for the most part, with sporadic outages," Anselmo informed I&T this morning.

NBIC activated its disaster recovery technology processes, which ran successfully, though users were not affected during the storm. "All core applications hosted via our multiple private clouds remained available throughout the hurricane," Anselmo notes.

Claims servicing proceeded well without impact to policyholders, Anselmo says, and shares a note sent to him and other NBIC associates by the carrier's customer service team.

Today I received a call that I wanted to share with everyone; Over the weekend we had sent a voice recorded message to our insureds advising them of our claims handling process should they need to make a claim from the storm, this message was broadcast via our telephone recovery service, TeleCom Recovery. Today a New Jersey policyholder called the home office, she just wanted to say "Thank you" for the received, she had no claim to report but stated in 32 years she has never received a message from any other carrier before a storm.

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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