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How to Minimise the Effects of Surge Season With the Right Talent

From snowstorms to floods and freezes, the impending change of season will have wide-ranging impacts on insurers in the coming months.   

As we head into winter, property insurers must ready themselves for a spike in complex claims that require highly skilled and strategic staffing. 

We know from decades of experience managing these surge events that this spike will likely see a similar rise in operating costs for insurer. This year, we also expect to see the war for talent compound these challenges with insurers struggling to find the right people to meet demand.  

 As we head into winter, this demand is only going to increase with snowfall and freezes impacting all types of property insurance. These claim types often require far more expertise per claim than routine theft or vandalism claims, so it is essential insurers are able to recruit specially skilled, strategic talent to manage this influx. When the right people aren’t recruited, it can see the lifecycle of a complex claim extend and cost per claim rise as a result. 

So, how do you ensure your organisation minimises the effects of surge season? 

1. Recruit truly qualified claims professionals 

The number one key element to consider is the ratio of truly qualified people to standard claims professionals in your team. You need enough experienced people for the more complex exposures such as wind, water, fire, and general catastrophe losses – but not every adjuster can handle these well. Building your team with staff that have the experience and expertise to handle complex claims might seem obvious, but it truly does have the biggest impact on your bottom-line surviving surge season. 

2. Consolidate loss types 

If your team isn’t consolidating loss types to maintain an efficient process, they need to consider this urgently. Additionally, building a known, defined cadre of experts and vendors to respond as a priority in larger markets can make the difference between a successful response and one that costs you more than your reputation with a singular policyholder. Of course, good data analytics and planning make this process easier to build and refine. But, finally and most importantly, you must be committed to transparent, ongoing contact with the customer. Technology has a role to play but do not underestimate voice-to-voice communication particularly after 18 months of the pandemic where human contact has been limited.  

3. Scale and flex your CAT plan 

At GB, we have learnt through years of experience that a tried and tested Surge plan and list of vetted experts and vendors is essential. Our internal approach to Surge events has been refined and constantly adjusted to meet new demands and claimant expectations. But, this Surge plan is only as effective as the predictive data analytics needed to feed its evaluation. We regularly adjust our Surge plan to ensure we’re continuing to meet and exceed expectations as demand changes.  

4. Be ready to address all challenges 

We have seen challenges arise from unknown quarters over the past five years – this year we will also see the challenge of supply chain disruption. This is not just a local issue but a truly global one and the effect can be significantly disruptive. Similarly, a major weather event requiring building materials to repair properties when materials are in short supply or unavailable must be factored in. This will see additional pressure on insurers to meet customer expectations and increased claims costs making it essential for carriers to consider these challenges when reviewing surge arrangements. 

To find out how Gallagher Bassett can guide your company through and beyond surge season, connect with our experts today.

Gordon Vater

Managing Director – GB Technical

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