Connecticut Edition/February Drive client loyalty with great customer service

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1 Connecticut Edition/February 2010 Drive client loyalty with great customer service

2 Property damage emergencies Tips to help your policyholders cope By John Capponi, CR, WRT, ASD Your services will never be more in demand than when your policyholder is dealing with a property-damage emergency. Whether it is a water, mold or fire-related loss, policyholders feel a real sense of confusion and panic when their home, the place where they feel most safe, has been in jeopardy. Often priceless personal items such as photographs and family heirlooms are damaged, causing further emotional distress and a sense of hopelessness. It is in the best interest of the professional agent to be sensitive of their clients emotional needs after damage has occurred. In order to meet those needs, agents need to prepare the policyholder for the recovery process; help choose the provider to complete the work; familiarize themselves with the mitigation; and restoration process so they can educate their clients and maintain a constant flow of communication throughout the process. It is steps like these that will build a compassionate, yet professional, relationship with the policyholder, and ultimately, retain their business. Prepare the policyholder Before the mitigation and restoration process begins, the insurance agent should explain to the policyholder exactly what the process will entail. The agent should be empathetic, emphasize that the damage will be taken care of, but never pass off the restoration process as a casual routine. Give examples of a similar incident and how the job was completed to the policyholder s satisfaction. That will give them reassurance that you have dealt with these types of incidents before Professional Insurance Agents/February

3 and the confidence in knowing that you will get everything completed as promised. In order to prepare the policyholder for the process properly, it is crucial that you, as an agent, fully understand the work that will need to be done. Every insurance agent should know the dos and don ts of the mitigation and restoration process so that they can educate their policyholder, ease their concerns, Offering insurance solutions for: VFIS - RSDIS - PRIME - Not-for-Profit emergency service organizations (Fire, Rescue, EMS) Water, sewer, irrigation, and conservation districts and manage their expectations. By understanding the process fully, insurance professionals will be better equipped to recommend the restoration company to successfully take care of the job. Municipalities (Cities, towns, townships, and villages) Ohio Public Risks Insurance Agency, Inc. was formed in 1983 as a brokerage service for Independent Insurance Agents in Ohio to provide products for fire and emergency medical service departments. In 1984, OPRIA contracted with Glatfelter Insurance Group to represent their VFIS program exclusively under the name VFIS of Ohio. In the ensuing years, the PRIME product for municipalities and RSDIS for water and sewer districts were added to our line-up of Specialty Products. The mission of OPRIA has been to provide agents with quality products at a competitive price delivered in a timely manner to give them the optimal chance for a successful result. We believe the strength of Glatfelter Insurance Group and OPRIA's commitment to personal service to our agents and clients have resulted in three product lines unmatched in the market place. 69 W. Foster-Maineville Road P.O. Box 279 Maineville, OH (800) Fax: (513) Help choose a provider Since finding a property restoration provider is not a usual practice for a policyholder, the process of recommending a trustworthy and wellregarded company often falls to the agent. To provide excellent policyholder service, the insurance agent should research restoration companies to find a service provider that is consistent, efficient, and ethical, and that can perform the services that will suit the policyholder s needs best. Insurance agents should look for restoration companies that have been in the industry for an extended period of time and have maintained a great reputation for responsiveness, exceptional restoration service and compassion. When researching companies, it is crucial to think about the same questions your policyholder would want to know: Is this company professional? Are their employees well trained? Are their employees honest? Can I trust them? Do these people show care and respect for the homes they are working in? Do they treat the policyholder with care and concern? It is important for them to feel comfortable with the company selected to do the mitigation or restoration work and in order for that to happen you must also feel comfortable with the quality of employees within that company. Educate your client with the restoration process Even though a professional property restoration company is expected to walk the policyholder through the recovery process, it is important for insurance professionals to understand basic property damage procedures. This will allow you to educate them about the steps to take to ensure the safety of all residents and prevent further damage in a property damage scenario. A water emergency. Water losses often occur after weather-related disasters and many times results in flooded home with contaminated water that is unsafe for not only the residents, but the restoration technicians and adjusters as well. By learning about the dangers associated with this type of loss, insurance professionals can educate their policyholders about safety. 18 Professional Insurance Agents/February 2010

4 In case of water damage caused from within the home (i.e., faulty appliance, broken pipes, etc.) the policyholder should immediately turn off the water main, which can reduce claims by more than half, and move all wood furniture off of wet carpet to protect both the furniture and the carpet and place aluminum foil or wood blocks under the furniture legs to prevent damage to the dry surface. If a shop vacuum is available, the property owner should try to get rid of as much excess waste and water, which can help prevent any additional problems. Since policyholders typically are only able to address about one-third of the problems themselves, it is crucial for agents to encourage them to hire a professional restoration provider to analyze the damage and fully restore the loss properly. A fire emergency. A fire loss often is more severe than a water loss and special attention to safety is imperative. A few simple and initial questions from the insurance professional at the beginning will help to address the problem as quickly as possible. Is there any structural damage? Is there a lot of smoke? Advise the policyholder that young children and the elderly need to leave the home immediately as they are more susceptible to health issues related to the air quality. After a fire, the agent should also be able to educate the policyholder about how spending a few hundred dollars to pretreat metals in a home (i.e.: faucets, pipes, hinges, light fixtures, etc.) can save thousands in unnecessary replacement costs in case of a future fire loss. Communication is key Overall, the most important thing to understand about helping a policyholder cope with any type of property loss is that communication and hand-holding through the process is just as important, if not more, as writing a check for the loss. An open flow of communication between the insurance agent and the policyholder is crucial to ease their worries. Prior to the start of the restoration process, the insurance agent should explain to the policyholder exactly what the process will entail. If they are going to be displaced for a period of time or if they are not comfortable staying in the home during the recovery process, make sure they have appropriate accommodations. If the expected completion of the restoration has to be moved back for any reason, give the policyholder fair warning. The agent needs to make sure the policyholder is comfortable with the recovery process. This includes comfort with the restoration workers who are in the home and the work that is being done. Maintaining an open flow of communication with the policyholder throughout the process is as important as the recovery itself. Understand that each policyholder will go through five steps of grief and anticipate that anger will turn up one way or another if the agent expects this Student Housing Bloss & Dillard offers you the best Student Housing coverage. With great rates and professional service, we re sure to meet your policy needs. For more information contact us at (800) or BLOSS & DILLARD, INC. INSURANCE MANAGERS A+ rated carrier ckaged or p Professional Insurance Agents/February

5 Are you using allyour PIA benefits? Did you know... PIA has a Resource Library with a wealth of information to help you with your every day business needs? Available from the Resource Library are sample producer agreements, an agency procedure manual, disaster response planning manual and a host of articles and checklists to help your agency grow and prosper. These materials are available for PIA members to keep in their agencies to refer to anytime. PIA also keeps hundreds of books, audio cassettes, CDs, videos and DVDs from well-known industry professionals that PIA members can borrow for free up to 30 days. For more information, contact PIA s Resource Center at (800) or go to emotion, he or she will be prepared to help the policyholder cope and restore his or her sense of calm. Furthermore, regular and ongoing communication between the insurance agent and the restoration service provider is critical to ensure that all parties are on the same page. The insurance provider should make sure the restoration company is aware of the severity of the situation both the structural condition of the property and the emotional condition of the property owner. In turn, the restoration provider should provide timely feedback to the agent to ensure that their policyholder relationship remains unbroken. After all, this is the moment your policyholder decides that service is more important than price. Your policyholder retention is ensured if you follow these steps. Maintaining an open relationship with the restoration company can help develop a long-standing bond that can be utilized for future property emergencies. Capponi is vice president of operations for PuroClean. He brings with him a wealth of industry expertise gained from nearly 35 years of experience. His expertise extends to operations systems design and development, project management. Capponi holds industry certifications including: IICRC Journeyman Cleaning Technician, Master Restoration Technician, Water and Fire certifications, Certified Restorer through ASCR/RIA and more. PuroClean is a leader in property damage restoration and has earned the trust of property owners, insurance professionals and home service providers throughout the U.S. and Canada since In 2009, PuroClean trained more than 8,500 insurance professionals nationwide to help them earn their continuing education credits. For more information on PuroClean visit Professional Insurance Agents Association of Ohio, Inc. 20 Professional Insurance Agents/February 2010

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