The Knowledge: Flood – The People
Find out what four industry players have to say about the flooding risk
”Insurance is an intangible product – the consumer never gets to experience it until the worst happens. When there are huge surge events a lot of resources are needed. But most of the industry pulls out all the stops to make sure their customers are looked after, so we need to make sure that story is told.
“Unfortunately there are always going to be cases where perhaps the insured doesn’t understand the length of time it takes to dry out a property, and that is picked up by the media. That will always happen, but as an industry we need to communicate better and we can learn lessons from other sectors in this regard.
“If you look at Network Rail for example, from time to time when there’s bad weather they get landslips that will close a line. Their engineers take photos of the slip and they use these on their website and social media to communicate with travellers – some of whom may be annoyed because they can’t visit their family, etc. They also use time lapse photography to show they are working night and day to fix the problem.”
”Reputation is built on both perceived and actual actions. Most critical for a policyholder in the event of a flood (or any major disaster) is speed of reaction, lack of fuss, lots of compassion and quick allocation of resources to restore their living arrangements.
“If insurers cannot provide this, the policyholder may be left feeling that they haven’t received what they thought they were paying for and a major disaster can intensify those feelings. Insurance companies tend to fall short when it comes to clear and timely communication.
“Despite having excellent trade bodies, the industry is quite segregated. It is unable to effectively convey complex and sometimes emotional responses to people not versed in the technicalities of rules, regulations and legalities of the insurance process, especially during a claim.
“With so many methods and channels of communication open it is important for us all to play our part, especially in the insurer-broker relationship, as the local broker can do much to help ease the client.”
”A major flood event would be a resourcing challenge for everyone in the market because of the increased demand on claims teams and associated supply chain; however, we have contingency plans for this and responded well the last time there was a major flood event in 2007.
“Having delegated claims authority is a benefit as we are able to help and support our customers through the challenges of a flood first-hand. In the case of a major event, however, many of the claims will breach our delegated authority limit and be passed to the insurer for handling.
“Flood events are probably a greater risk to reputation in that there is a great deal of focus from customers and the media on the service provided during challenging operational circumstances.
“Having said that, it is also a great opportunity to demonstrate the support we can provide our customers and protect the things that are important to them.”
”The industry has dealt with past flood claims reasonably well. However my real issue is with the after-service. Flood defence advice and offering help with the costs of improving flood defences on clients’ properties are all options I think insurers should consider.
“I have seen insurers increasing excesses to ridiculous amounts and have even had flood cover removed completely at renewal after an incident, which is totally unacceptable.
“There should be no excuses when you are the holding insurer not to offer cover at renewal and, while I appreciate premiums may need to be loaded, a fair excess and flood cover should always be on offer.
“To have a home worth thousands of pounds not insured because of an event that has happened in the past is unfair and just shows a lack of heart in the industry towards clients.
“Flood Re is a step in the right direction and I just hope this gives peace of mind to all who are in areas with a flood history.”