3 Ways Single Points of Contact Help Speed Recovery

After your facility is struck by a disaster, many companies are faced with the reality that rebuilding cannot start until insurance check(s) are issued.

And it’s often discovered that it’s much more difficult to get your checks quickly if you’re not organized.

That’s why it’s recommended most businesses and organizations have a point person (or team) for managing the relationship with the insurance company and restoration providers. This week’s post builds on the “assign a single point of contact” tip from our Four Expert Tips for Smoother Insurance Claims article, which also highlighted the importance of understanding your insurance policies; keeping detailed/organized business records; and finding your service providers ahead of time.

Who’s in Charge?

When disaster strikes, knowing who is in charge of key responsibilities related to informing your restoration provider and insurance company greatly simplifies potential miscommunications and response delays.

Consider a situation that arose at a university when a water pipe broke and released millions of gallons of water on campus. Multiple facilities were flooded and the situation quickly became chaotic as journalists and onlookers descended onsite. Fortunately, the university had a single point of contact (with redundancy) to manage the situation on their end, as did we.

Fortunately, the university had a single point of contact (with redundancy) to manage the situation on their end, as did we.

The university’s contact coordinated with facility managers in multiple buildings. And our contact coordinated closely with our project managers at the individual facilities who were overseeing the job. The reporting structure helped ensure that the head of facilities and everyone else was properly informed throughout the recovery process—and enabled a rapid response on our end. We completed our work within two weeks, which was quick for such a large job—and that’s a testament to the value of point people.

So what kinds of things did we do to ensure job communication and coordination, including the claims process, would go as smoothly as possible?

Here are three tips that point people can use, in addition to the other tips from the Four Expert Tips for Smoother Insurance Claims mentioned earlier.

1) Know the special considerations across facilities
Whether your organization has a single building or multiple facilities, the single point of contact should understand the special considerations your providers may need to be aware of when responding to or assessing a job. That way, if for example there are hazardous materials on a site, the point person will be able to answer questions about whether or not specialized equipment may be required and alert his or her counterparts accordingly.

The point person should also know things like whether or not important records or documents are stored on site and where they are located. This is important because it’s critical to stabilize paper documents as quickly as possible if they get wet, and a point person can help ensure that nothing important is overlooked in a chaotic situation.

2) Establish a communication tree
When a disaster happens, key personnel, such as facilities managers, need to know who to contact and how to contact them. If you have multiple facilities, then it may be appropriate for facilities managers to contact the restoration provider directly to report incidents and request help since they will be able to provide key information about site circumstances, security and other ingress/egress issues.

Insurance is another matter because your facilities people may not be able to speak to certain parts of a claim. A central point of contact, however, either could speak to all parts of the claim or know who to turn to for the information the insurance company needs. The important thing is to establish clear protocols so your main contact stays informed about what’s happening in each facility. That way the point person will know whether a provider is awaiting any important information and can better manage the claims process and ongoing communications with insurance companies and your restoration provider(s).

3) Create contact cards
To remove any mystery about who facilities managers or other people should be contacting during a disaster, we’ve found that wallet-size cards containing key contact information (including backup contacts) work well. Ideally, cards would be customized for each person so that the only numbers in addition to your company’s point person are numbers that each individual might need to call.

An Important Role for Difficult Times

While the single point of contact role may seem thankless when things are going right, when something goes wrong it’s a clutch position. Recovering from a disaster is all about the details, and having one person (or small, centralized team) who can coordinate with your insurance companies and restoration providers will help ensure key information isn’t slipping through the cracks and slowing down your recovery.