In Nebraska and other states across the Midwest, we tend to become unresponsive to the weather reports of tornado warnings and severe storms. In fact, you can find many memes about Midwesterners acting nonchalant when faced with severe weather. My personal favorite is the one of a guy mowing his lawn as a tornado rages just beyond the fence surrounding his yard. There is even a Twitter account for local Omaha weatherman, Bill Randby – or rather his sleeves, and a Sleeve-O-Meter alerting us to the severity level of a storm (and thus your appropriate reaction level) based on how high up his sleeves are rolled.
These are NOT the type of responses you should have, however, when it comes to your business and reporting of claims. Developing a strong claim reporting procedure can help reduce overall claims costs, minimize impact to your premiums, and ensure all potential claims situations are reported timely.
Establish a procedural workflow for reporting claims. Provide clear, step-by-step instructions easily understood by all employees and incident forms for gathering information and directing employees to the proper contact person. This contact person is responsible for reporting claims to your insurance carrier and/or agent and fostering an atmosphere where employees are not fearful of repercussions for reporting an actual or potential claim situation. You may opt to have more than one central contact person, such as one for work comp and another for auto claims, just be sure your process streamlines employees to the correct contact. An often forgotten but important part of your procedure, is to have a back-up to your central contact AND a back-up to the back-up. These individuals should also be aware of your claim reporting procedures and given the contact info for your insurance agent for additional help.
Report all claims (and potential claim situations) timely. The sooner your contact person can get a claim to your insurance carrier or agent, the quicker the adjuster can respond and investigate. Train employees and managers to report all incidents to your contact person, even the ones they don’t feel will warrant an actual claim. Making claim reporting a habit for your employees will go a long way in ensuring all potential situations get reported to your insurance carrier for proper handling and within any reporting deadlines. When reporting to your carrier, be sure your incident report includes all pertinent initial information. Think of a news article and include the who, what, where, when, why, and how of the claim event.
Post-reporting responsibilities. Complete an internal investigation as soon as possible after an incident to provide a clear instantaneous picture of the claim details to the adjuster. This investigation should include items and questions such as, whether water was on the floor after a fall, if proper safety procedures were used, vehicle damage pictures, or names and statements of witnesses. If buildings or property need to be covered up or repaired to prevent further damage, keep your receipts. Be ready to provide these and other requested documentation to the adjuster. Your cooperation is a major factor in ensuring effective claim handling. Do not throw away any items related to the claim so it can be inspected, if necessary. For work comp claims, be sure to reach out to your injured worker and have a return-to-work plan in place.
Designing a new claim reporting procedure or revisiting your current one can be the difference in ensuring your claims are reported timely and handled in the most efficient and cost-effective manner by the adjuster. And, perhaps, we in the Midwest should also be a bit more cognizant of the importance of reacting properly to the weatherman’s threats of severe weather. Hmm, maybe I should put that Sleeve-O-Meter by my TV and check the batteries in my flashlights…er, try to remember where I actually KEEP my flashlights.