Albertans felt “re-victimized” by Fort Mac claims process: NICC 2017

Confusion about coverage persists among policyholders

Many Albertans felt “re-victimized” dealing with the insurance claims process following the Fort McMurray wildfires, according to Bill Adams, vice-president, Western and Pacific, Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC).

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“Perhaps the most prevalent [problem] was confusion about insurance policies and coverages,” Adams said during a panel discussion about the industry’s performance following the wildfires at NICC 2017. “As we see time and time again in the industry, many policyholders simply don’t understand their coverage.”

Mike Van Elsberg, deputy senior-vice president of claims for Intact Financial Corporation’s Western division, said the industry has a greater role to play in helping customers through times of emotional distress.

“We need to focus on not making the recovery process a part of [customers’] negative experience,” he said. “We’ll never turn around the disaster, but I think how we support customers and the community and the municipality that’s rebuilding is where we need to focus our time.”

Van Elsberg also said front-line staff need to be equipped to handle the stress of dealing with victims of natural disasters.

“I think where we do need to spend some time is supporting our customers emotionally through these things, but also making sure we equip our staff to deal with these things,” he said. “It’s difficult dealing with people who are going through this emotional journey, and not all of our folks were able to handle that.”

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