National Catastrophe Management Center: Prepared for Anything
When disaster strikes, Travelers Claim professionals are on the front lines helping customers and agents restore their homes and businesses. But just as important as the efforts of our hard-working field inspectors is our team at Travelers National Catastrophe Management Center in Hartford who coordinate the on-time, precision deployments of people and materials to the impacted areas.
“Our goal is to get the right resources to the right event at the right time,” explained CAT Center head, Chris Day, “and there’s a lot behind making that happen.” Catastrophe management professionals at the center are responsible for monitoring weather events and using statistical modeling to project claim volumes based on historical data and current policyholder and coverage data. The goal is to always stay one step ahead of claim volumes so Travelers is planning ahead of events, not reacting to them.
Managing the Resources
One of the first responsibilities of Day’s team is managing the deployment of Claim professionals with the appropriate skill levels and training to not only one, but often multiple, catastrophes. The Workforce Management team constantly monitors claim volumes and employee capacity countrywide to determine the assignment of the appropriate claims to the right people with the right skills in the right place.
“There are four key areas that provide resources in a CAT situation,” explained property claim vice president Chris Nixon. “The face of our CAT response in a particular location is our local Claim field office, if circumstances allow them to assist in the response. We then augment whatever local resources are available with members of our dedicated CAT team, which today is comprised of 180 full-time responders with experience managing high-severity claims. We also deploy property staff from other offices to assist with claim volume or to supplement expertise where needed. We balance our staffing needs by adding members of our Enterprise Response Team, where we draw on claim volunteers from other parts of the organization.”
At the same time, CAT Center professionals are working with underwriters, regulatory affairs experts, Claim Legal and other home office experts to develop guidance around any coverage, procedural or political issues that may be emerging unique to the dynamics of that particular event. The goal is to deliver expert guidance to our Claim professionals so they can confidently convey our company’s position on emerging issues to customers and agents in the area.
Another key responsibility of the CAT center team is contracting and distribution of key equipment to the impacted area. Before a storm hits, Day’s team will have arranged for fuel, tarps, hotel rooms and other necessary supplies to be in place days ahead of time. They will have also dispatched the laptops, cell phones and cameras that our responders will need to get to work when they arrive in the area.
Also supporting the local response efforts are the five Travelers Mobile Claim Offices – self-contained mobile units complete with generators, water, communications systems, supplies and payment capabilities. “In a catastrophe, you don’t know what will be left standing and what the infrastructure will look like,” said Ray Stone, who has been involved in our catastrophe response for many years. “We can issue a ClaimTM card right then and there so people can get the money they need right away.”
With Travelers’ local response in full swing, the CAT Center professionals continue to monitor volumes and workloads and shift work to available pockets of capacity, which may involve tapping into the skills of people anywhere in our countrywide Claim organization. The Center also staffs a resolution desk designed to provide a single point of contact for agents and customers to surface questions about their claims, and quickly implement any process corrections necessary.
Claim Reporting Contingency Planning
To ensure our customers can always reach us, contingency plans are in place for the Claim Customer Service Centers responsible for answering Travelers’ claim reporting hotlines and assigning claims to the appropriate professional for handling.
“We’ve developed layers of contingency capability solutions, depending on the nature of the catastrophe,” said John Cuffe, Claim Customer Services. “Whether it’s a hurricane or a hail storm, we know before it hits what our steps will be, based on the historical demand patterns we’ve seen for that type of loss. It’s pretty scientific.”
The Claim Customer Service Centers can deploy all available resources, including managers, trainers and quality control teams, who are also trained in loss capture. They also have 600 different people throughout Claim who have been trained to step in when needed.
Those contingency plans were especially helpful last fall when Hurricane Ike hit -- and the normal claim volume of 1,000 calls a day shot up to over 5,000 calls per day the Saturday and Sunday after the storm hit, and 8,000 calls on Monday.
“All our customers deserve the same quality service regardless of the circumstances,” said Nixon. “Regardless of whether you’ve been impacted by a hurricane or you’re reporting a claim on the other side of the country, you have the right to expect the same fast, empathetic, professional service we promised when you purchased your policy.”