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Careful and sensitive communication helps vulnerable customers

Source: Insurance Age 

Date: 25/08/17

MA Assist’s Jorge Gonzalo discusses how sharing information between brokers and insurers can help customers.

In March 2017, a storm damaged the property of a mutual insurance customer, Margaret. The insurer referred the case to MA Assist and informed us that roof tiles had been blown off the front of the house, the chimney stack looked unstable and the fence had blown down.

At this stage, little was known or shared about the customer. We tried to get in touch with Margaret several times but could not reach her.

Rogue traders
Meanwhile, Margaret was targeted by rogue builders who made faulty repairs to her property. We were unaware of the situation until the insurer contacted us to say the wrong roof tiles had been used.

We carried out some investigations and realised that Margaret had been the victim of rogue traders. Despite the confusing situation, the insurer agreed to pay for rectifying the faulty works as well as the original storm damage works.

However, we still hadn’t been able to talk directly to Margaret. Eventually, Danny, from our contact centre team got through to her and immediately realised she was a vulnerable older person, who was also very scared.

Margaret told Danny the rogue builders had turned up and carried out the work and that she was worried they may come back for money.

She had previously been a victim to rogue traders who took £800 from her and she was too scared to call the police.

Sharing information                                                                                         
To avoid further distress for Margaret, Danny immediately informed the insurer of her situation and discussed how they could rectify it. Danny contacted the local broker and contractor to make them aware too.

He arranged a call between Margaret and TrustMark registered contractor Frank Rogers so she knew exactly what to expect with the work.

Later again, Danny struggled to contact Margaret and reached out to the local broker and insurer to help get in touch.

Finally, Danny got through and was able to update Margaret on the plan of works. As Margaret was concerned about security issues whilst the scaffolding was in place, the works schedule was planned so that it could be done in one day, including erection and removal of the scaffolding.

He organised for Margaret to get a call on the morning of the works. He also arranged for a call to Frank Rogers at the end of the day to ensure the scaffolding was down.

Margaret said Danny was “a diamond”. She added: “Within the first two minutes of talking to Danny I knew he was an honest, caring and trustworthy gentleman. It was so refreshing to speak to someone so lovely.”

Good communication
This case demonstrates how important good communication is. Key information must be shared between brokers, insurers, claims managers and contractors to help support vulnerable customers.

Danny worked in line with MA Assist’s Supporting Pledge. He took control of the situation, giving Margaret both reassurance and key information. The plan of works was altered to accommodate Margaret’s needs.

Support
The insurance industry needs to share information and adapt to the needs of the customer.

It’s the reason we set up our Supporting Pledge and is why we fully support the Insurance Age Insurance Cares campaign.

To help support vulnerable customers, we advise the following:

  • Ask the right questions at First Notice of Loss and share information with the supply chain
  • All customer-facing staff including brokers, insurers and claims handlers, through to loss adjusters, surveyors and contractors need to be trained to recognise vulnerability and to provide the right support and information
  • A sole claims manager should be appointed to ensure strong project management and to give a single point of contact to the customer

Jorge Gonzalo is the managing director of MA Assist