Before a claim, companies aim to identify exposure to loss and provide personalized advice about a problem before it turns into a major loss in the future. Access to residential engineers and customized risk-management inspections, thermographic imaging of temperature variations and pre-construction expertise for new-home projects are just a few examples of the services available.
Illustratively, leading insurance provider, AIG Private Client Group has a team devoted to loss prevention. This team inspects properties and provides detailed loss prevention reports on roofs, electrical systems, heating and air conditioning, water damage, fire detection and life safety. Thermography is used to identify and depict otherwise unknown and unseen electrical and moisture-related problems. “I like to understand why losses happen and to solve problems. My role gives me the opportunity to share past experiences with our customers and to alert them to the potential perils that are present in their home. This information will help them mitigate the risk condition to protect their family and prevent damage to their property.” says Steven Felton, Loss Prevention Engineer with AIG’s Private Client Group.
Several companies have even developed a wildfire protection unit, which is activated during an event—essentially a private fire department exclusive to their policyholders. A similar service for hurricane protection is available. And all of these services are complimentary.
Many companies are now also providing additional services at the time of a claim. Claim advocates, for example, are made available to provide a higher level of care than, and a role distinct from, a claims adjuster’s.
Specifically, an adjuster’s role is to assess and value the loss. Claim advocates, however, support homeowners through each step as they put their lives back together. All companies have relationships with emergency-service providers and frequently arrange for direct payment to the providers.
Some companies take an even more proactive approach. After a large insurance claim, at least one company we know provides up to a $2,500 discount to pay for loss-control devices, or the advice of professionals who can help prevent a similar event from recurring. Imagine that a pipe breaks and water damages your home. One company will repair the damage and contribute up to $2,500 toward the purchase and installation of a water-leak detection system so this doesn’t happen again.
The topper is that many of these companies then offer cost-savings discounts once the measures are completed. Install a water-leak detection system, which shuts off water in the event of a pipe break, and you’ll qualify for a significant discount on your premium.
In this example, the company discounts $2,500 for the purchase and installation of the system and then provides an additional savings on your premium each year. The combination will pay for the system in no time.
While it is tempting to describe these services as “free,” it is probably more accurate to say you’re paying for the services whether you’re using them or not. So, then the question is, why not take advantage of all that is available for the premium you are paying?
There are many more services than can be outlined here. Your insurance broker should be introducing you to the services available through your specific insurance provider. Don’t know about these services? You may be with the wrong broker.
Your company doesn’t offer these services? You may be with the wrong company.
Timothy L. Brenneman is the CIC, Executive Director at Cook Maran & Assoc.