In December 2022, extreme winter weather conditions caused power outages and freezing pipes across the United States — damaging properties and displacing residents. In the days that followed, our temporary housing team took on an increased claims load to secure accommodations for policyholders.
In addition to the stress of being displaced, families were concerned with whether their temporary accommodations would accept their pets, as well as the disruption to everyday school and work routines. During situations like this, it’s up to our colleagues to show how “caring counts” and to listen and address their concerns. We specialize in arranging temporary housing that fits each customer’s unique housing needs and keeps them as close to home as possible.
The time of year added another layer of complexity. Since many policyholders were traveling for the holidays while Winter Storm Elliott took place, they couldn’t evaluate the extent of the damage until it was too late. Significant damage resulted from a variety of issues following the storm, primarily due to frozen pipes that burst. Insureds may have gotten home only to find leaks; and if there was sitting water, there were additional risks, like mold, to consider — forcing them to leave the premises. What was supposed to be a season of cheer, quickly turned into despair — reinforcing the need for our temporary housing team to approach each claim with empathy.
An empathetic approach
Following a traumatic event, the last thing any policyholder wants to deal with is deciding where to temporarily live. Many insureds felt anxious and overwhelmed as they worked through the stages of grief for their damaged home. Learning to identify trauma and respond productively fosters a better claims outcome. That’s why, beyond needing temporary housing knowledge, our colleagues are trained to listen intentionally and act with empathy.
We began receiving requests for temporary housing immediately and despite the storm affecting the entire U.S., our strategic catastrophe response planning allowed us to ramp up quickly and handle the call volume. This included conducting early cross-trainings and onboarding a large group of temporary colleagues so we were able to continue providing the level of service customers expect. With the option for all claim requests to be easily submitted and tracked through a digital platform, our experts acted fast — calling policyholders quickly to begin providing housing assistance.
Some policyholders only had a single pipe burst that may have required them to wait on a plumber but continue living in their home. Others had severe, uninhabitable damage that has forced them to evacuate for what will likely be several months to a year. As a result, the temporary housing needs varied from flexible, short-term accommodations in a hotel to a long-term property rental. While our team took care of coordinating temporary housing, insureds could focus on what matters most to them – their safety and recovery after a loss – while staying in their community.
Preparations for policyholders
It’s recommended that policyholders regularly review their insurance policy to understand the response to winter weather-related losses and whether temporary housing expenses are covered if their home becomes uninhabitable. Ways to protect properties include wrapping outdoor pipes and faucets with insulating material, opening cabinet doors under sinks to provide warm air flow and keeping the temperature at 55 degrees or warmer inside (for more tips, click here).
Winter Storm Elliot may be several months behind us, but our teams are committed to being there as long as it takes to support our clients and their policyholders. When natural disasters occur, we can provide temporary housing assistance for first responders, insurance carriers and service teams – from loss and claims adjusters to mitigation and repair employees. Our network of hotel brands and short-term housing options ensure we provide quality temporary housing with the best lease terms when it matters most. If we can be of assistance to you, please contact our team at [email protected].