Disaster Preparedness & Response
While our Risk Control department focuses on helping our customers understand and mitigate their risks, our Claim Catastrophe Response team takes the lead on customer interactions should a disaster or severe weather event occur. Our Claim Catastrophe Response team coordinates closely with multiple business units and functions across the organization, including Underwriting, Legal and Communications, to respond to our customers’ needs in a quick, efficient and compassionate manner. That is a core part of the Travelers Promise to take care of the people we are privileged to serve.
Our promise to help customers in the face of disasters begins well before a catastrophe hits. We partner with our customers and communities to help ensure they are prepared for a disaster, and we employ leading-edge data and analytics capabilities to help predict extreme events. In the event of a catastrophe, we leverage the power of our data and analytics, as well as our 30,000 dedicated, in-house employees, to provide the best possible outcomes for our affected customers.
Partner in Preparedness
Travelers offers a range of resources that help our customers and the public prepare for disasters:
- Business Continuity Planning. Our network of more than 500 Risk Control consultants and our self-service website for Business Insurance customers provide a comprehensive set of business continuity planning resources to help customers understand their unique risks. We work to help businesses of all types prepare for disasters and other disruptions to their operations and supply chains.
- Prepare & Prevent Resources. Through the Prepare & Prevent page of our corporate website, we provide customers, agents and brokers and the general public with extensive educational resources to help them plan for, stay safe during and recover from natural disasters of all types.
- Education and Advocacy. The Travelers Institute®, our public policy division, helps further educate the public and advocate with policymakers on the benefits of disaster preparedness and resilient communities.
- Building Resilient Communities. Through charitable partnerships, Travelers and the Travelers Foundation support building strong communities, including through a partnership with Habitat for Humanity®.
- Wildfire Defense. In 2019, we launched a Wildfire Defense Services Endorsement for California home and landlord policies with fire coverage. In 2020, we extended this offering to all Small Commercial customers in California; in 2021, we again expanded this offering – this time to include home, landlord, farm and ranch customers in Colorado. This endorsement is included at no additional cost to the policyholder. Travelers works with Wildfire Defense Systems, a private firm that specializes in wildfire mitigation, which uses proprietary forecasting and threat analysis to identify which Travelers customers are likely to be impacted by a wildfire. For at-risk properties, Wildfire Defense Systems provides loss prevention services, such as reducing potential fuel sources, taping vents and applying fire retardants.
- Pre-Catastrophe Communications. The Travelers Risk Control department partners with the Personal Insurance, Business Insurance and Claim departments to develop and distribute catastrophe communications. These alerts, which are distributed digitally via email and social media, are designed to provide our customers with actionable prevention advice. For example, in 2021, we sent materials to our insureds in advance of five different extreme weather events to help them prepare for the event. Travelers also communicates with customers and agents after disasters to inform them of steps they can take to help mitigate damage, file a claim and begin the process of recovery.
Leading Analytical Capabilities in Disaster Response
As part of our efforts to respond to our customers’ needs in a quick, efficient and compassionate manner after a disaster or extreme weather event, we seek to further develop and leverage our leading analytical capabilities. We have built a proprietary approach to assembling data that lets us assess severe storms, such as the precise size of hail forming in a storm cell, to understand the footprint of an event, how many customers may be affected and the probable severity of the losses. In addition to catastrophe (CAT) modeling, our approach uses geospatial capabilities, which integrate event overlays that aggregate millions of data points from weather services, our weather models and ultra-high-resolution aerial imagery on policy and claim locations. Our sophisticated Workforce Management platform leverages our geospatial insights to inform workforce deployment and Claim response decisions before, during and after a catastrophe event in order to engage the right catastrophe resources and technical expertise and begin deployment efforts before claims are even reported. All of that helps us to get the right people to the right place faster than ever before.
We continue to innovate and enhance our analytical capabilities, enabling us to fulfill our promise to take care of our customers in the event of a natural disaster. Our recent innovations include:
- Using Aerial Imagery and Geospatial Technology to View Disaster Areas. Through our Travelers Catastrophe Map Viewer, we provide agents and brokers with searchable, high-resolution before-and-after images of areas affected by disasters. The Travelers Catastrophe Map Viewer uses photos from aircraft equipped with market-leading aerial camera systems that are sent over certain disaster areas to assess damage. Images are often available within one or two days after a catastrophic event, allowing our Claim professionals to quickly assess damage, notify customers about the condition of their property and begin the claim and recovery process – often before physical access to the affected area is possible. In 2021, we collected post-event imagery covering more than 18,000 square miles in connection with 16 separate events.
- Combining Aerial Imaging and Artificial Intelligence (AI) Learning to Detect Wildfire and Wind Losses. The Travelers Wildfire Loss Detector tool helps us assess which properties are total losses after a wildfire event, while the Travelers Wind Damage Detector tool allows us to evaluate the severity of damage sustained in wind events. Our teams leverage the machine learning capabilities built into these tools to analyze thousands of images of damaged and undamaged homes, immediately assessing the damage sustained. With these powerful tools, we are able to more quickly identify customers with the most significant damage and begin the claim process immediately – even before we have access to the area – thereby allowing our customers to begin recovering and rebuilding their properties sooner. These capabilities also allow us to quickly identify key insights about CAT events, which in turn help inform our operational response and risk selection strategies going forward. Our Wildfire Loss Detector tool won the 2019 Gartner Eye on Innovation Award and a CIO 100 Award.
- Using Smartphones for Quicker, Safer Claim Inspections. Thanks to innovative virtual inspection and measurement technology, we are able to transform smartphone photos of a property into an accurate 3D model so that our Claim professionals can easily inspect property damage without climbing ladders and our policyholders can provide information without having to schedule an on-site inspection. In other words, after a disaster or another covered loss, we are creating a faster and easier claim process for our customers and a safer environment for our employees. In 2021, we continued to accelerate the widespread use of this and other virtual claim inspection tools, when appropriate. For example, in 2021, we handled 35% more auto appraisals and 70% more property water claims virtually, as compared to pre-pandemic levels.
Where possible, we also gather data from controlled tests to improve prevention and preparation. For example, Travelers supports the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS), which has a one-of-a-kind controlled research facility that can generate hurricane-force winds, hail, and wind-driven rain and embers. The studies conducted in this facility allow IBHS and supporting members such as Travelers to study the impacts of weather events in real-world scenarios; they also allow us to analyze the results to better respond to events and protect our customers and their assets. For more information on IBHS and the ongoing work Travelers supports, see our illustrative initiative regarding IBHS.
Dedicated Catastrophe Response Resources
Our sustained investment in innovative catastrophe response strategies sets Travelers apart from our peers. We handle customer claims, including all catastrophe (CAT) claims, with specially trained Travelers employees; we do not generally contract CAT claims to third-party adjusters. We employ more than 350 dedicated catastrophe response specialists across North America, prepared to deploy on 24 hours’ notice. Operational and logistical support specialists at the National Catastrophe Center support this CAT team, which also partners closely with our nearly 2,000 property Claim professionals to respond to losses promptly, efficiently and compassionately.
In 2021, we continued to face unique challenges related to a high level of CAT events during the ongoing pandemic. We responded to 71 CAT events and adjusted virtually all of the related claims with our own employees (i.e., without the need for outside adjusters). Our in-house claim capability allowed us to quickly implement procedures to handle claims virtually when possible, and safely in person when needed, with a consistently high standard of customer service. This capability is a competitive advantage that results in a better outcome for our customers and a more efficient outcome for us.
We leverage our Loss Consultation team – the first such team in the industry – in support of customers impacted by the largest catastrophe events. Our Loss Consultation team consists of Property and Auto coverage experts, who are available seven days a week to give our customers and agents the information they need to make an informed decision regarding whether to file a claim. In some cases, they can also immediately process the claim after confirming coverage.
Our sophisticated workforce management programs help us quickly organize, triage and deploy Claim professionals with the right expertise to the affected area. We leverage the power of 30,000 employees to support our response efforts in the event of a large catastrophe. We make considerable investments in training our Claim staff and cross-train thousands of employees to handle lower-severity catastrophe claims. This allows our catastrophe and claim experts to focus on high-severity claims without sacrificing quality.
Our team follows a catastrophe playbook that includes resource deployment and communication to our customers throughout our process. Our Claim department regularly conducts tabletop exercises to test our readiness to respond to different disaster scenarios, including storms, wildfires, earthquakes, cyber attacks and man-made events. The purpose of these exercises is to evaluate and improve our response to events, identify any gaps in resources and implement a coordinated recovery strategy that prioritizes resources required for the response.
Our fleet of self-contained Mobile Claim Offices brings immediate claim service to our customers, who can stay connected using our satellite technology and power their smart devices at our generator-driven charging stations. Beginning in 2020, we implemented COVID-19 safety and social distancing protocols to safely deploy our Mobile Claim Offices to support our customers following a catastrophe.
Our National Catastrophe Center, staffed by full-time catastrophe management professionals, allows us to plan and coordinate response activities in a secure environment away from the disaster area – before, during and after an event. Our technical experts monitor weather 24/7 and overlay patterns with claim trends and our customers’ locations. This approach enables us to identify potential events early and to transform information quickly into action. Additionally, our “command center” is equipped with state-of-the-art data management, visualization and teleconferencing tools and is linked to hundreds of data sources, including the Global Forecast System, the National Weather Service Doppler radar network, Travelers Customer Service Centers and our internal systems that track claim metrics and staff resource availability. These capabilities provide us with the ability to deploy resources effectively and on a timely basis, which, in turn, allows us to better assist our customers and to respond to and resolve claims more quickly.
For more information about how we help our customers and agents manage catastrophic weather events, see our Travelers Emergency Response video.
Overall, our catastrophe (CAT) response approach enables Travelers to respond quickly, effectively and compassionately – and with integrity – when our customers need us most. Despite the added logistical difficulties inherent in CAT response, our CAT claim performance consistently meets or exceeds our internal benchmarks for claim handling. In 2021, approximately:
- 92% of property claims arising out of CAT events were resolved within 30 days of receipt of the claim notice.
- 83% of CAT claims were paid within a week of inspection.
- 54% of CAT claims were paid the same day as inspection.1
These results were particularly remarkable given that we responded to 71 catastrophe events and over 100,000 catastrophe notices of loss in 2021. In addition to being good for our customers, our ability to quickly adjust claims plays an important role in helping our communities in their recovery efforts. This short documentary demonstrates the impact our CAT response can have on customers, agents and brokers and communities.
1Based on Travelers catastrophe claim data, 2021.