In this article we hear from Paul Jacobs, Aon Private Clients’ Claims Director on why acting as an ‘on the ground’ advocate for clients can not only help them deal with tricky and complex insurance claims to get the best outcome, but can also be invaluable in helping to prevent a loss in the first place.
Insurance claims come in many shapes and sizes and while one client may consider a claim to be simply an inconvenience another may view it as a complex problem. Whenever we have clients concerned about their loss or how the insurance company or representative will manage the process, I often visit in person to see the client prior to the visit of the loss adjuster.
For complex or high value claims, it’s not simply a case of calling the insurer and letting them get on with assessing the value of the loss and how much they will pay; it’s about thoroughly understanding the extent of the loss, the potential ramifications and the outcome the client wishes to achieve either in tandem or in advance of an insurer’s and their representatives’ initial visit. It’s about empathising and providing support and counsel for our clients during what can be a distressing time.
Recently we needed to decide how best to approach and present a particular loss to a client’s insurers. We started out by understanding the needs of the client and listening to their preferred option for settlement. We were able to use the subtle nuances and sub-sections within the cover to maximise settlement within the restrictions of the policy. If we’d simply left the loss adjuster or insurer’s representatives to visit the client without having discussed the claim in advance, the outcome could have been very different.
Recovering uninsured losses
Another example of our claims advocacy is where we have been able to help clients recover losses that perhaps fall outside of their insurance cover. A major loss resulted in a client being exposed to a sizeable uninsured loss running into several hundred thousand pounds. With the insurer’s uninsured loss recovery agents, I was able to dove-tail the client’s loss together with the insurer’s recovery; a successful approach which helped to secure almost all of the client’s uninsured outlay.
Complex losses often concentrate the mind and, in most instances, prompts a review of cover with significant amendments. Many individuals tend to believe the sums insured on their insurance policy are sufficient, but it is often not until they have experienced a major or complex loss that they realise there are things that could and should have been done differently.
Values for antiques and fine art for example can change quite significantly in a relatively short time as the market moves and items which might have seemed virtually worthless in years gone may have seen increases.
Whilst there are no hard and fast rules, if clients ask if a valuation is up to date, I would suggest that if it has not been revisited in the last 3-5 years it is worthwhile speaking with a valuation provider for expert advice and opinion.
Time to re-evaluate
It's amazing how many people not only revisit their valuations after a claim but also take another look at their disaster recovery plans, their snatch lists (what they’d grab in the event of an emergency), or even calling out the fire brigade to do a familiarisation visit so in the event that the unthinkable happens, everyone is aware of what needs to happen and there are no surprises.
There is a lot that can be done to help a client avoid a loss happening in the first place and if it does, to mitigate that loss as much as possible. Being there on the ground for the client means we can also call on any number of the trusted advisers we work with to help address any issues that a claim might have exposed and to help avoid such an incident happening again.
Advocate from start to finish
A claim is usually a very difficult and stressful time for a client and I think it’s a critical role for us, as their broker, to be there to manage the process, to advocate for them, build the right team and get the best outcome. At Aon we take a holistic approach to claims and placement and, where required, I get involved at the time of policy renewal or at pre-renewal meetings. My role is not just about managing a claim but also in helping to advise on making sure the client’s cover accurately reflects what the client has and what they’re looking for from their insurance.