Since 1980,the U.S. has sustained 323 weather and climate disasters that have resulted in over $2.1 trillion in damages. Climate-related disasters have become more frequent in all regions of the globe, with the World Meteorological Organization calculating that disasters have increased by a factor of five in the past 50 years. As we face a future with more frequent and more disastrous weather events, insurance agents need to be ready at a moment's notice to provide clients with timely communication on coverage, policies and safety information. Wildfires, floods, hurricanes and snowstorms are among some of the disasters that have caused havoc and require immediate reactions.
While no one can predict a crisis, agents serving areas that experience extreme weather on a seasonal basis can prepare clients (and themselves) for climate-related disasters with relevant messages about how to protect their property and lives. There is an obligation to communicate to clients if something's going to affect their wellbeing and communities. Creating a preparedness plan that readies agents for these situations can go a long way to facing these situations when they occur and ultimately supporting clients.
Some disasters, like earthquakes, are largely surprises, but many weather events are seasonal and predictable. California's wildfire season, for example, historically runs from July through October. However, extended drought conditions mean the state is susceptible to human-caused wildfires all year long. Agents need to know what seasonal conditions and potential disasters can affect their customers and make sure they prepare them year-round for both anticipated and unexpected climate crises.
When disasters strike, there is the initial wave of chaos, but the impact can last more than one day, and customers need more than just one check-in. They need to be communicated with on a continuing basis as the situation evolves. As an individual agent, there is only so much one can do to contact everyone affected; this is why automated messages/calls are critical during crises. Those who leverage automated communications, whether through email, text or call that can be personalized, can create custom calls to action to help customers. Some examples of messages to include are: evacuation instructions, resource center information and post disaster claim information. Automated messages allow you to stay connected with your clients and provide a sense of relief when it is needed the most.
Preparing tailored messages for climate-related emergencies is a great way to stay ahead of any situation. Agents who fail to prepare are preparing to fail their clients. Creating ready-to-go materials for these types of events that can be used when a disaster arises will streamline processes. The last thing an agent wants is for a disaster to happen and to find themselves with no materials prepared for their clients. By using technology solutions that provide relevant content that can be customized, you can instantly have ready-to-send materials to your customers at a moment's notice. Automated systems can deliver materials that can address nearly any situation you might encounter. Curating materials/messages about general or specific disasters, safety kits, will allow agents to easily prepare, customize and distribute information in a timely manner. And, when disaster strikes and customers need to know their next steps, agents can quickly send out prepared messaging about how to file a claim so customers can start the process immediately.
See also: Need for Scalable Response Teams
Those trying to respond with manual processes are unlikely to respond in a timely manner to clients. Without the support of technology, agents would need to manually go through their book of business to identify those affected, then create messaging and directly contact each individual. This is likely to take days, if not weeks. For clients going through a difficult time, knowing that an agent is there to support them is important. An automated system allows you to have a communication strategy that can be used in emergencies and be sent in minutes.
This allows agents to focus on processing claims being submitted by clients instead of being bogged down by the initial wave of necessary respondents. Prepared communications also allow agents to provide clear directives to those affected on the information needed to streamline the claim process and veer off any confusion or delays. During this period, customers want to easily access information regarding their policies and process claims as quickly as possible. Agents who are able to deliver this efficiency to their clients can expect to retain those clients long-term, while those who do not are likely to experience an exodus as those same unhappy clients spread their experience to people they know.
Understanding your customers' expectations when it comes to their protection is important, and delivering at a crucial time is exactly why they pay insurance premiums. Technology can help identify those customers instantly and reduce the time needed to reach them. From direct communications to making it simple for clients to navigate your websites, these things matter to them. Creating easy-to-use pathways for clients to access this information will reduce the difficulty as an influx of claims are submitted. Setting yourself up for success means preparing where possible and leveraging the necessary tools to provide clients with quality service at any time.