The following post is the first in a series for adjusters that was written by Mike Koch, national property & catastrophe manager for Crawford & Company (Canada) Inc.
When catastrophic events occur, there is an immediate need for response. Both natural and man-made catastrophic events often cause devastating and long-ranging effects to the individuals, communities and natural environments impacted.
Claims adjusters play a critical role during such events as they serve as the eyes and ears of policyholders who have vacated the affected area and the carriers that underwrite these policies. After an event has occurred, and the impacted area is deemed secure enough for emergency/first-response personnel and associated professionals to enter, claims adjusters are placed onsite to conduct their investigation on the impact and severity of damages sustained to insured properties; and to manage and expedite the claims process.
The services of these individuals come into play during the thick of it, as they enter environments that have been crippled by the very destructive force that swept through. Preparation is key for claims adjusters—ensuring that they have the resources, supplies and equipment to effectively navigate through the impacted environment and execute their functions accordingly. To that effect, adjusters should be aware of the following and prepare as needed.
A claims professional deployed to a catastrophe site should always bring the following:
- Money. The limited power sources within the affected area will hinder one’s ability to use debit or credit cards to make purchases or to withdraw money from an ATM. Adjusters should bring a fair sum of money either in U.S. or local currency to purchase essentials, such as meals, gas, water, etc.
- Cooler. The potential lack of power will impact the operability of local infrastructure and certain accommodations that we have grown accustomed to having, such as running water, heating, cooling and refrigeration. Adjusters should bring a small cooler for water and refreshments. Also, pack a handheld flashlight in case there is no lighting.
- First-Aid kit. These are useful for treating minor scrapes an adjuster may sustain.
- Office supplies. A small cache of business supplies consisting of a stapler, paper clips, pencil, paper, ruler, measuring tape, etc., should be packed to help document activities.
Proper gear. The attire that an adjuster packs should be versatile enough to accommodate the climate that he or she is about to enter. It should also be suitable for conducting an on-site investigation; and meeting with superiors, clients and other business professionals. Protection and practicability come first, which means safety shoes and a hard hat are musts. Other essential items include a laptop with a spare battery, a car charger, camera and an updated passport.
- Manners. Adjusters should mind and respect local customs and traditions, and act accordingly.
- Translation device. Since language may be a barrier, adjusters should come prepared with language conversation books or translation resources to assist.
- GPS device. As navigation may sometimes be a challenge, coming prepared with maps of the local area and a GPS device can prove to be most useful.