Flood Line - How do insurers cope with the rising contact?

How do you stand up fast and effective customer service in a crisis? Exploring what insurers need to consider for large scale disaster.

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Jason McKinley 18th January 2016 3 minute read

Flood Line - How do insurers cope with the rising contact?

With last winter being one of the wettest - many homes & businesses were flooded, leaving widespread destruction left across large parts of the UK. People rallied together working to clear the damage and lift spirits but in the aftermath allot of attention was paid to the way in which insurance companies are dealing with the devastation.

Troops on the ground

Insurers  reassured us a ‘small army’ of claims managers were deployed to flood hit areas helping to; find temporary accommodation, field requests for advice and even help out with the relief. Aviva sent people door to door whilst Direct Line has sent a mobile office as an ‘emergency hub’.

Malcolm Tarling, of the Association of British Insurers, said "quite a few companies had booked claims reps into the area as early as last week when there were predictions of this, so they were almost ready to move before it started raining”.

Clearly with such an emotive matter, face to face contact will help but is often not practical, the displacement and disruption to affected customers means they are often left looking online & on the phones for help.

Rapid deployment

Much like the claims reps, having people waiting in the wings who can be rapidly deployed to cope with the surge in customer contact should be part of the contingency planning for all insurers. This however is tough to plan for and even tougher to resource. Managing spikes for service providers is always tricky, however even more difficulty is seen when the queries are as important & complex as insurance claims – customers will expect clear answers and expect to be dealt with as efficiently as possible – this requires training and very robust processes.

Prioritisation of the elderly and vulnerable alongside proactive contact to such customer groups stands out as a key responsibility for insurers. Their ability to perform in this area firstly requires back end systems to be updated with contact details as well as suitable channels well tested to make sure key information is available as quickly as possible.

Social help

Communicating out key messages requires channels which are also well managed - social now plays a big part in keeping the public updated about such things as road closures, weather updates and safety advice – there is no room for poor social customer service and slow response times at a time like this. Customers need 24/7 support, live updates and having their questions answered in real-time. When the weather subsides and insurers start to handle the surge of claims; this test their capabilities – delays caused by inadequate resourcing will only serve to leave customers in limbo.

Emergency contact centre

An approach taken by the NHS to help deal with public communications in the case of a pandemic or health scare is emergency contact centres, with chosen outsource providers part of a ‘ Master Customer Contact Centre Framework’ able to stand up trained advisors in a 24 hour period. The same approach could be taken by insurers in case of a flood - firstly bolstering front line communication needs – then extending the service to process surging claims.

Much like insurance itself – hopefully measures such as this will never have to be deployed but the reality is they will and if this is the case you don’t want to be left with the true cost of inadequate cover. 

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