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Experiences from Louisiana, 2016

Mike Hearn | September 1, 2016

Catastrophic weather events, by their very nature, cause severe damage and displace families. The recent flooding in Louisiana was no exception to this unfortunate rule.

I was recently dispatched to flood-ravaged parts of Louisiana to support Spex clients inspecting damage and doing their part to help families with the difficult task of rebuilding. My job was “simple” - help clients provide better support the carriers they service by performing inspections and turning around reports in a rapid fashion. In situations like these, extremely low cycle times are essential for a number of reasons. Perhaps the most important is to provide money - whether from the insurance carrier or FEMA- to people affected by this terrible event.

Having been deployed on multiple catastrophic events as an independent field adjuster, and having managed multiple large scale deployments as a Director of Operations at an IA firm, I had a good idea what to expect when I arrived in Louisiana. For the most part, my expectations were accurate. The damages were like none seen since Superstorm Sandy ravaged the eastern coast of the United States. The site of rubble piled up on curbsides of neighborhood streets and major thoroughfares was a common image. Red Cross vehicles and humanitarian response groups were staged in church and mall parking lots. But, I will never get used to witnessing destruction to the lives that are affected, the mementos and keepsakes that are lost, and the way that mother nature can reduce a lifetime’s worth of sentimental possessions to a pile of debris stacked on a street curb.

The claims experienced in Louisiana were the kind made for a solution like Spex. We supported dozens of claims over the course of a week. Most claims were flood losses and ranged from significant (62” interior flood line) to minor (only a few inches) damage. A large majority of these were procedural denials to get insureds the paperwork needed to request FEMA assistance. Obviously, timeliness is of the essence in these situations and Spex delivers value in these cases. We also saw the typical “water spots on ceilings” and other miscellaneous claims one could expect in heavy rain events but the large majority of our time was spent inspecting flood claims.

Events like these put a strain on the insurance industry. Out-of-town adjusters are often deployed to unfamiliar locations. Local resources like hotel rooms, fuel for vehicles, restaurants, cellular/wifi service, and even power can be precious commodities during times like these. All of these things add to the frustrations of both the affected individuals and the parties doing their best to help local residents start the rebuild process. For our part, Spex tries to help alleviate frustrations by providing cutting-edge technology to document losses and creating online reports that can be viewed and shared with all parties involved in a loss in rapid cycle times. Pat Foisey, owner of Claim Assist Canada, has said that Spex reduced cycle times from three weeks to three hours earlier this summer at Fort McMurray.

Catastrophes are never easy to manage. The recent flooding in Louisiana is certainly no different in that regard. After witnessing the devastation, I am certain of this: the citizens of Louisiana are some of the most resilient and good spirited people I have encountered. Louisiana will rebuild. Louisiana will get through this and come out on the other side better than ever. I’m glad Spex is playing a role in that process.

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Mike Hearn
Director of Customer Success, Spex