Keep calm and carry on

Midway Insurance is taking a new approach to the way it responds to flat owners who have suffered a major loss, as Paul Robertson explains

When a block of flats suffers a major loss such as a fire or flood, many lessees and their families are affected. This can be a very difficult and distressing time for them. At 1st Sure, based on our experience of dealing with such losses, we have learnt the value and importance of early intervention and immediate communication with everyone involved. However, this can prove challenging for the loss adjuster when standing in the pouring rain or up to the top of his wellies in flood water, trying to address the needs of distressed flat owners.

In the past, we have promoted the importance of being able to locate and use a local facility, such as a church hall or school, where lessees can assemble and the insurer and loss adjustor can address their immediate needs. But when faced with a crowd of distressed people this can prove challenging when privacy is at a premium. Recently we incurred a significant loss where the estate involved had a small office and the loss adjustor was able to use this to address the needs of each family on a one-to-one basis in a calm environment. The impact of this on the 11 affected lessees and their families was significant. Not only was their trauma significantly lessened but they responded with a higher than usual level of co-operation, which resulted in a reduction of the eventual cost to the insurer. The flat owners had an improved claims experience and the insurers saved money; it was something that deserved further innovation.

For this reason we have just purchased and adapted a vehicle to form our new custom-fitted incident response unit. Following significant damage to a block, resulting in multiple lessees unable to occupy their flats, our incident response unit will be deployed to the location and will act as emergency offices, either on site or nearby, enabling the insurance company and their loss adjusters to liaise with each affected family face to face.

This vehicle is a significant investment in improving our customer service. At 28 feet long, it provides as a mobile office facility while remaining practical to use. Unlike heavier vehicles, it can be parked in most locations and complies with London emission zone requirements, ensuring it can be deployed to city centres. We have also designed a driver safety programme and installed appropriate safety measures such as suitable mirrors, reversing camera and parking sensors along with left turn and reversing announcement and nearside cyclist detection.

The vehicle is fitted with disabled access and has built-in auxiliary heating. It will provide the facility to use computers, with internet access, and simple luxuries, such as the charging of mobile phones and the ability to make tea and coffee. This custom-fitted vehicle will enable us to deal with future major losses in a friendly, dry and warm environment, allowing us to ensure that each and every family is given the support and care they need to make the process of re-instating their home as painless as possible. Losing your home and all its possessions as a result of fire, storm or flood is extremely traumatic and this simple but effective early intervention will dramatically improve the customer service flat owners receive and deserve in their hour of ultimate need.

Paul Robertson is managing director of Midway Insurance and 1st Sure Flats