As the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve, we have tips to share that may be helpful to implement in your claims handling procedures. These are guidelines only, so each claim should be evaluated based on the urgency and adjusted as needed.
We encourage mutuals to use remote claims handling procedures to the greatest extent possible. When onsite activity is necessary, employees, contractors, vendors, insureds and other parties should follow social-distancing protocols as laid out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Here are some suggestions for “desk adjusting” and “virtual claims assistance”:
- Make initial contact with the insured within 24 hours and obtain a clear explanation of their loss and damages.
- If the insured is able, request photos to be submitted via text, email or any other electronic technology available.
- Use email to submit all the documents that the insured may need to review, including letters, inventory sheets or any other applicable claim forms.
- Consider waiving the requirement for a signed Proof of Loss unless there is a large fire loss or theft claim.
- Utilize a Reservation of Rights format rather than a non-waiver so that no signature is needed.
- Once you submit these items to the insured, follow up with a phone call to make sure you and the policyholder both have a clear understanding of what is expected and required from each party.
- If the loss is an emergency, consider using “Essential Contractors” (restoration companies) to assist you with immediate needs.
- Let the insured know that any estimates or completed documents should be sent to you immediately for review. Provide a timeline for when you will follow up with them.
- Be sure to take good notes throughout the claim process and document each step.
If an in-person inspection is required, we recommend that:
- If you meet with an insured, ensure you follow proper distancing and CDC guidelines. Confirm with the insured that there is no known exposure to an infectious disease prior to the inspection.
- When using an independent adjuster, make sure you have a copy of their protocol and the steps they are taking to ensure the safety of all involved.
- If an exterior inspection is all that is required, ask if it is acceptable for you to inspect without the insured being present.
- For interior inspection, obtain as much information as possible over the phone and prior to the inspection.
Insurers should make prompt payments of covered losses based on the information and documentation that you are readily able to obtain. If the insured finds additional loss or damage, they should be instructed to contact you immediately so you can review and handle the supplemental claim accordingly.
To follow this rapidly changing situation, please regularly visit the CDC COVID-19 resource page.