Superstorm Sandy, which made landfall on the coast of New Jersey October 29, resulted in 131 fatalities and up to $22 billion in insured losses in the United States. Many NAIFA members, along with their families, friends, neighbors and clients, felt and continue to feel the impact of the storm.
Across the region, people looked to their insurance agents for guidance and assistance. Stories by two NAIFA members illustrate the important role agents played in helping their clients along the road to recovery from Sandy’s devastation.
By John McGovern, a NAIFA member from Middletown, New Jersey
Needless to say, it was a very challenging time.
Communication was the biggest problem. We had no power in the office, and everyone on my staff had no power in their homes for almost two weeks.
Fortunately, I was able to call in for messages. In the 72 hours immediately after the storm hit, I received more than 250 messages from clients needing assistance. Part of the problem was that everyone calling into voice mail was calling from a cell phone. Many of the messages were not complete. I was missing many names, and the phone numbers many people left were missing digits.
When I learned that my sister had her power restored in North Jersey, I spent several days at her home where I could charge my phone and access my database of client contact information.
I literally was on the phone from 8:30 am to 11 pm for several days. After I returned calls for all the messages I could decipher, I randomly called every client who lived in the zip codes of impacted areas. Many of these people lost everything and had no contact information for their insurance policies.
It gave me some peace of mind to make sure everyone who needed help was at least going in the right direction and had the claims process started. Many people had heart-wrenching stories and I think they were glad to have someone to talk to.
It was a very big challenge but not only did we help people when they needed it the most, we also created a great deal of good will with our client base.
By Vincent J. O’Brien, a NAIFA Member from Spring Lake, New Jersey
I am a life insurance agent, not a licensed P&C agent, but I have a story on how my agent was able to help me.
My car was crushed by an 80-foot tree. My insurance company told me to file a claim and then put me in touch with the claims department. After a while, I was growing impatient with the company’s initial response.
Then my agent got involved!
She offered emotional support and listened to my complaints, and then went to work. Within three days, the claim was settled for an amount equal to the book value of the vehicle and more than $4,000 above what an out-of-state adjuster was trying to offer.
This is the value of an "Agent"!
I can only wonder how people who purchased their insurance on-line are doing with their claims.
We heard similar stories from other NAIFA members. Along with the usual damage assessment, policy information and claims assistance, agents helped their clients with a variety of needs, such as making arrangements with contractors and tree-removal companies, finding temporary transportation or lodging, and contacting the power company on behalf of clients.