By Laura Delpiano – VP of operations, temporary housing and Mark Della Giustina – VP specialty services, principal building consultant
After experiencing a property loss — especially during hurricane season — homeowners have difficulties finding temporary housing that doesn’t impact their normal daily routines.
The short-term crunch of finding housing in an area with widespread impact means that displaced policyholders must immediately secure temporary housing. Even in isolated claims, such as house fires, the current economic climate has made searching for temporary accommodations more challenging for customers.
Sedgwick’s temporary housing division works to help find safe, comfortable and cost-effective accommodations that will continue to meet our customers’ housing needs throughout their property claims. Having temporary housing services available to customers early on in their claim has been proven to significantly enhance the overall claim experience. With so many moving parts, temporary housing options can be greatly improved with accurate repair time estimates at the beginning of the claim.
Evaluating insurance costs
Discrepancies in initial damage evaluations and the rising cost of home repairs are resulting in higher long-term insurance costs. Repair timelines are being extended, policyholders are displaced for longer than initially planned, and there are fewer options for housing as a result.
Accurate property repair timelines are more difficult than ever to estimate because of the backlog of construction materials, market delays on supplies and labor shortages. The current growth of inflation has also intensified the cost of home buying, renting and repair — increasing the importance of strategic cost management for property insurers and their customers.
Communicating early and accurately estimating downtime helps minimize the number of moves for a policyholder, and not only improves their experience while being displaced, but also results in lower overall housing costs. For example, securing an eight-month lease at the onset of a claim will result in lower total costs than securing a month-long lease and extending monthly for eight consecutive months with higher short term rent premiums.
Acting fast with technology
Technology solutions for both the claims provider and the policyholder significantly helps speed up the claims process and get displaced families into housing sooner. With the option for all claim requests to be easily submitted and tracked through a digital platform, our teams can act fast — calling policyholders within fifteen minutes of claim submission to begin providing housing assistance.
Our customer facing portal helps policyholders choose hotel or long-term housing options quickly. With digital filters to view available properties and details, policyholders can submit their housing selections for immediate processing and get placed into housing faster. In addition, we have access to a specialized property database that tracks temporary housing leases, extension opportunities, vacate deadlines and future availabilities. These digital resources help Sedgwick offer the best temporary housing options within a quick timeframe.
Steps for policyholder and adjuster success
While many factors can impact a customer’s experience, there are steps that can be taken to improve the speed, accuracy and cost-effectiveness of temporary housing:
- Gather information quickly – Whenever safely possible, encourage the policyholder to take photos and videos of the property and damages before vacating. Photos and videos from the scene early on can help adjusters get started quickly on assessing damage and filing a claim. Getting the claims process started faster has a ripple effect on the policyholder’s next steps, including choosing a contractor, implementing repairs and possibly moving from a hotel room to a more comfortable accommodation like a short-term rental home.
- Plan for a longer-term stay – When managing temporary housing, empathy and collaboration are especially important. Repair timelines can be tough to estimate early in the claims process, but policyholders can be advised that sometimes repairs take longer than anticipated, and total downtime can be impacted from more than just contractor repairs. Plan for repairs to take longer than early estimates and communicate early to find long term housing options at the onset of a claim.
- Look to the data – Years of claims data shows helpful trends in the time differences between initial lease terms for temporary housing vs. how long the displaced stayed during their claim. Sedgwick’s temporary housing team has access to this data to help estimate more accurate repair times for claims.
Whether a family needs somewhere to live while their home is being repaired or a place to stay immediately after a storm, we can help. Our team is available 24/7/365 to help claims adjusters quickly find housing options to meet the policyholder’s needs. To learn more about Sedgwick’s temporary housing solutions, read the flyer or visit our website.