Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath are expected to result in tens of billions of dollars in lost economic activity and property damage, making it one of the most costly natural disasters in recorded U.S. history, according to The New York Times.
“This storm is going to be huge; right now, they are talking about Katrina”-level damages, said Henry W. Maley, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Schedule It, a startup in Elizabethtown, Ky., that works with insurance carriers and adjusters.
Of course, total impact estimates won’t be available for a while to come.
“Katrina took years; the adjusting will probably take six to seven months to look at everything,” Maley said. “We’re talking thousands of claims.”
Insurance adjusters already are flocking to the areas of Texas and Louisiana hit by the hurricane and the resulting flooding; however, Maley said, closed roadways and continued rain would keep them from getting to some houses and businesses until the storm dissipated.
Hurricane Harvey is the third natural disaster that Schedule It has worked in the last year. The company specializes in managing clients on behalf of insurance carriers and adjusters, scheduling appointments and mapping out routes for insurance adjusters to save time and money.
“Families are faced with losses and trauma that are very difficult,” Rebecca Wheeling, CEO and owner of Schedule It, said in a statement. “Our hope is that we will provide services to help the adjusters see and close claims faster so that the victims will be able to begin rebuilding their lives.”
Wheeling left Monday for Texas to meet with clients ahead of what is bound to be a monthslong process of evaluating and paying out insurance claims.
During large-scale disasters, Maley said, adjusters don’t have time to call insured individuals back and to schedule appointments because they are dealing with an overwhelming amount of claims.
“We basically take that front load off the adjuster,” he said, adding that insurance adjusters who use Schedule It are 30 percent more productive.
Schedule It is preparing to roll out a product soon that will send the insured person a text message with a time frame of when an insurance adjuster can come assess a claim. The person can either accept the appointment or request a different time if needed.
“The insured just wants to know when the insurer is going to show,” Maley said.
Back when Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast in 2012, Schedule It wasn’t around and trying to reach insurance adjusters “was a nightmare,” Maley said, adding that it took multiple calls over a couple of days to get insurance assessments booked.
With Hurricane Harvey, specifically, he noted that the biggest challenge is locating people in the impacted areas who have insurance coverage that will cover damage related to the storm. In some places, cellphone service and utilities are down.
“They are wanting you to get ahold of them,” Maley said, “but some may have no resources.”
He added that employees are working around the clock to try to reach insured individuals and to plan the following day’s schedule for insurance companies Schedule It is working with.