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  • Case study

Taking the heat out of wildfire claims

Aligning loss-adjusting and contents inventory resources for a rapid claims response

Who we worked with

A large US insurer with property exposures in California.

What the company needed

Extra contents inventory professionals to help insureds compile total loss inventories when emotions were running high and timescales tight.

How we helped

Our skilled contents experts worked directly with insureds to create total loss inventories that were complete and accurate.

What the company got

Appreciative customers and improved brand reputation, while keeping a handle on loss adjusting expense and indemnity at the same time.


Heartache and claims

In the aftermath of the historic Northern California wildfires in October 2017, insurance companies faced catastrophic losses and record claim volumes. On the heels of Hurricane Harvey and Irma, the scarcity of adjusting resources made a comprehensive claims response even tougher for insurers.

The biggest challenge? Asking insureds to create personal property inventories. Carriers who had placed this responsibility directly on the claimants faced a backlash, with policyholders overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the event and the widespread destruction in the community.

The client engaged our contents inventory specialists to help their customers through this difficult time.

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A sympathetic response

We went back to basics on the claims process design, taking into account the emotions involved. We created a smoother, less stressful process to assist insureds in creating their personal property inventory:

  • First we deployed a team of contents experts to the affected area
  • Working directly with each insured, we talked them through the process and gathered detailed information about specific items
  • Claims were compiled over the phone and using our ClaimTracker app
  • Once the inventory was complete, we reviewed the final document with the policyholder to make sure it was complete and accurate before submitting to our client, which greatly reduced supplemental inventories
  • This work was done in tandem with the loss adjudication process, dramatically reducing the overall cycle time


Reassured clients. Shorter claims.

We helped process over 725 total loss claims for our client, with a total replacement cost value of $280 million. On average, we got in touch with the insured two hours after receiving the assignment. The average time to settle the contents portion of the loss was 19 days, a massive improvement on the 90-120 days it takes in CAT claims where no help is provided to the policyholder.

Both the insurer and its customers benefitted from our the program. Customer satisfaction improved as our client’s supportive response stood out from other insurance providers as insureds could start to recover from their loss more quickly.

For insurers, the dramatically shortened claims cycle reduced overall claims expense and controlled indemnity. By removing the task of collecting and estimating the contents portion of the loss, the carrier’s field-adjusting staff were able to handle more losses in a shorter timeframe.

Customer perspective

“My wife and I were a wreck and reeling from the complete loss of our home in the recent devastating Sonoma fires. Sandy was assigned to us by our insurer, and gave us a spreadsheet to fill out with our lost belongings, and then interviewed us about our estimated losses.

Receiving the spreadsheet proved to be a really emotional process, as we went over in our minds all the many valuable and personal items lost. We found ourselves having many questions about the categories on the spreadsheet, plus we were anxious because we didn’t know what to expect.

Sandy immediately put us at ease, saying she understood the trauma we had gone through – and the trauma we continued to go through – and that she was there to answer any questions we had about the spreadsheet. Her calm and caring demeanor, and her patient explanations of the categories on the spreadsheet, were reassuring at a very tough time. She always had time for us, patiently answered our questions, and encouraged us to reach out to her if we needed clarification.

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"Having someone like Sandy working for you in this sensitive and key position is a total asset to your company. She is a true professional who understands how to work with and interact with folks in delicate and traumatic situations. We truly appreciated her assistance in helping to understand the fine points of the claim, allowing us to accurately and correctly complete it.”