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Perspective from the claims department

The following testimonial was provided by Carolyn Cooney, a claims adjuster in our Western Zone...

While Southern California was experiencing tremendous rainfall, I received a request to visit a damaged property that was being featured prominently on local news. It was a 33,000 square foot custom home with ornate finishes including 24K gold gilded trim work throughout the enormous ballroom.

Understandably, when I arrived the family was extremely frazzled.  They were awoken in the middle of the night to this event, and water was still being removed from their home many hours later. In this situation, the cause of loss needed to be investigated to determine coverage. I fully explained the situation and outlined how we would proceed with our investigation. I answered all their questions and provided a clear timeline. I also listened specifically to their primary concerns so I could address those first.

The expansive ventilation system at this home had allowed exterior water into multiple areas, including layered wall finishes on all four levels. We immediately engaged a hygienist to test and develop a protocol to attack the moisture intrusion using unconventional drying methods. This would allow us to salvage the extraordinary trim work throughout the ballroom.

The ballroom floor, one of the family’s primary concerns, was unsalvageable. They were very disappointed to learn this but appreciated my honest explanation; they understood we were doing the right thing to ensure the integrity of their home. Uncomfortable conversations like these are part of this job, but if you take extra time to deliver bad news with honesty and empathy it is usually well received and most appreciated.

We placed the family in a local hotel and quickly secured a more comfortable housing option for them. Once the dry-out was completed successfully, we coordinated various sub-vendors to determine a comprehensive repair scope and reached an agreed price with the client’s chosen contractor. Multiple site visits were scheduled involving AIG staff, the clients and the broker, as well as with other experts and repair vendors. This created an open dialog and a transparency in the claims adjusting process. Timely progress payments and an overall settlement quickly followed.

It would have been easy to get overwhelmed by the enormity of this situation, but we chose to take this complex loss one step at a time—involving the correct experts and communicating clearly and honestly along the way. Most importantly, we listened and created a mutual level of respect. It’s actually a pretty routine process after that relationship has been developed.