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Insurers Prepare For Flooding, Damage Claims As Florence Makes Landfall

Sep 14, 2018

As Hurricane Florence comes ashore in the Carolinas, insurance companies are preparing to process thousands of claims. The storm combines high winds with massive amounts of rain and is expected to bring catastrophic flooding in some places. 

The Hartford has a team of 25 adjusters waiting in Tennessee with a mobile claim unit waiting to move in as soon as it's safe.

John Kinney is Chief Claim Officer for The Hartford. He says improvements in data analytics -- including geo-coding customers’ addresses -- allow for a faster response.

“Once that storm hits we have a pretty good sense of where people need to be positioned and how can we be most impactful to our customers as that storm is hitting land,” he told Connecticut Public Radio.

And he says once recovery is underway, a new app on adjusters’ phones allows them to prioritize claims.

“That really tells them which losses to get to in which order because what it’s doing is its measuring the severity of the loss and the need of the customer," said Kinney. "This technology allows us in very, very intuitive, seamless form to put our appraisers at the losses in the order they need to be seen.”

Kinney says as with Hurricane Harvey last year, Florence is a slow moving storm with heavy rainfall, expected to generate lots of claims caused by flooding.

Meanwhile, Connecticut officials are using the opportunity to remind residents here to prepare for major storms. Though Connecticut won't be directly affected by Florence, this is prime hurricane season and there are several storms currently forming in the Atlantic.

Lawmakers are encouraging residents to download the ‘CT Prepares’ emergency alert app. It’s a free download that will issue alerts for severe weather and other emergency situations.

But it won’t work, says New Haven Emergency Operations Director Rick Fontana, if your smartphone isn’t charged. He stresses the importance of a cell phone charger.

“And I don’t mean a charger just to plug into an outlet," said Fontana at a recent press conference. "I mean a powerpack charger. It could be the best $50 that you spend. Because without your cell phone you can’t stay informed. Make a plan, know where you’re going, have all of your information - insurance information. It’s great to have water, it’s great to have your medications, but it’s great to have a cell phone powerpack.”

Fontana, was joined by other state and local officials at New Haven’s Emergency Operations Center, including state senator Martin Looney.

Looney highlighted the state’s anti-price-gouging laws, which take effect once the governor has declared a state of emergency. That means businesses are prohibited from raising the price of products and services when a disaster declaration is in place.