As expected, insurers this week find themselves dealing with
what one called an “unprecedented” number of claims following
hurricanes Irma and Harvey.
“The one-two punch of these two damaging hurricanes is
unprecedented and has created one of the largest claims events we’ve ever
experienced,” said Daniel Durazo, director of communications for Allianz
Global Assistance USA. “Our claims department tells me that the only
similar event we’ve experienced was the 2010 eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull
volcano in Iceland that closed European airspace for eight days.”
As of Wednesday afternoon, Allianz had over 2,500 claims for
Hurricane Harvey and over 5,000 for Hurricane Irma.
Most Harvey claims came from Texas residents canceling trips
because of damage to their homes. Durazo said 20% of Irma claims are from
Florida residents and the rest are from people planning trips to Florida
AIG Travel reported 1,171 Irma-related claims as of
“The past few weeks have been challenging — of course,
personally, as so many of our employees and customers have been affected by the
back-to-back hurricanes, but also operationally,” said AIG’s senior vice
president and chief administrative officer James Page. “Our customer
service team, as well as their colleagues who have been pulled in from other
departments to help, have given their all to responding quickly to a major
influx of inquiries in a very short period of time.”
Jason Schreier, CEO of April Travel Protection, said the
volume of calls, emails and claims is “incredibly high.”
“Just the volume of it, compared to what we currently
see, is astronomical,” he said.
April’s office is in North Miami, Fla., and its staff
scattered in advance of the storm. Some stayed in Miami and remained without
power as of Wednesday, and others were trying to make their way back to town
via rental cars, boats and other modes of transportation.
“The norm through South Florida is no power, no
Internet, no phone lines and cell phone coverage … is spotty at best,”
April kept its emergency assistance services up and running
throughout the storm and its aftermath, but claims and customer service were
put on hold. Schreier said Wednesday marked April’s first day as being
partially operational, and full operations were expected to resume Thursday.
“Anything non-priority, anything non-time-sensitive,
had to be queued up, and today [Wednesday] we began following up on all those
types of requests,” he said.