Emergency Response from Insurance Companies, a behind the scenes look

Why is it that it takes so long for an adjuster to get out to your home after a hurricane?  Should they not be prepared for this?  I know it can feel like a long time when your property has been damaged.   Large insurance carriers actually spend millions and have organized systems for catastrophe operations; here is a peak at the motions of the beast.

After an emergency weather event occurs insurance companies deploy what is known as a React or Response Team.  These are people who work for the company that go out and survey damage.  They go to as many of the badly damaged homes as possible.   They issue advance payments, take pictures and give the insured instructions on how to proceed.  They attempt to let as many people as possible know to follow the conditions of the policy and make temporary repairs (tarp and water protect their homes).  They get an on the ground look at the damage to help determine the amount of adjusters they will need.

For large events such as hurricane and tornados they also call in their Mobile Response Units (MRU).  These are typically RV’s with satellite dishes and phones, so they can start processing claims for their customers in areas where there is no power.  These MRU’s are typically set up in large parking lots at places like Walmart, Home Depot or large churches, centrally located in the city so people can find them.

Insurance carriers also have semi-trucks already packed with supplies to set up a catastrophe adjuster offices.  They send paper, computers, printers, checks and tons of cable line to wire offices.  For example, after Hurricane Katrina, State Farm Insurance set up a center in an old Kmart building.  They used the entire building and the strip mall next door.   It was rumored there was over 500 miles of cable used in the building, all set up within a week of the storm.

Temporary Repair LLC team member in front of a Liberty Mutual MRU after the Washington, IL tornados

Temporary Repair LLC team member in front of a Liberty Mutual MRU after the Washington, IL tornados

The insurance companies have staff catastrophe adjuster and also utilize independent insurance adjusters that come from all across the United States to inspect the loss and issue insurance claims payments.  Once the adjusters get to the storm site (many adjuster drive over 30 hours to even get to the location) they go through a full day of orientation. 

The orientation gives the adjuster all the guidelines for the state, reviews best practices of the region, informs them about building codes  and typical building techniques found in the area.  They are issued computers which they need to configure with proper price list for the estimating software and everyday use.   Only then do they receive their claims.  When an adjuster receives claims he may receive up to 100 at a time.  When a storm like Hurricane Katrina comes and caused 25,000 to 50,000 losses per large carrier you can see how big the set-up of these catastrophe operations are.

Each adjuster then calls each of their customers to get claim details and set up their appointments.  These phone calls and computer entering data takes approximately 30 minutes per customer.  Most adjusters can see about 4 losses per 12 hour day.  This is why they need to schedule inspections for up to 30 days out.  They work 7 days per week, it just takes time.  Adjusters try to prioritize appointments the best they can but it is really hard to determine the actual amount of damage without seeing it. 

You can see why it takes a week to even get a call from your actual adjuster.  Not that the carriers are not working to service their clients,  it is just gigantic operation that takes time to get in motion.   With the principals of Temporary Repair LLC having a background in insurance adjusting, is why our tarp processes are set up the way they are.   Temporary Repair teams quickly deploy to storm locations to provide emergency tarping for leaking roofs that need repaired.  We take photos of the damage so you can electronically email your adjuster.  They are swamped but have time to see an electronic image and triage your claim.   They will also not need to remove the tarp to photograph the damage when they do come out for the roof inspection.  Most importantly we know the time it takes for an adjuster to come to your home after a hurricane, this is why installing a tarp immediately is necessary.  It could be up to a month and you need to be able to sleep soundly not worrying about mold and a ceiling collapsing during the night.  The insurance companies understand this as well, that is why the insurance policy covers the full cost of a roof tarp.