The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which looks to be the worst natural disaster the United States has ever experienced, has created unusual circumstances that even the most seasoned of Crawford & Company’s adjusters have never before experienced.
As the Atlanta firm’s adjusters attempt to process claims they are encountering contaminated floodwaters, gas shortages, claimants that cannot be reached, roads clogged with debris, bridges washed out, road signs are missing making navigation difficult, and, of course, some areas that are still only accessible to emergency personnel.
Crawford is taking some unusual measures to address the unique circumstances of Katrina. For instance, the company is making immunizations available to its adjusters to protect them against contaminated floodwaters-a first in the company’s 64-year history. The company has also rented several recreational vehicles to serve as a temporary shelter for some Crawford employees and their families displaced from New Orleans.
Additionally, Crawford has deployed one of its satellite communication trucks to provide a stable source of power and wireless communications to Crawford’s field units and adjusters. Via satellite, the trucks provide 10 to 15 wireless voice lines and more than 250 wireless Internet connections.
Each truck also powers a generator, which CAT adjusters can use to charge laptop computers, mobile phones and other business tools. This technology allows the adjusters to drive up to the truck and download loss assignments. Similarly they can upload reports back to an office where claims processing can continue. This allows Crawford adjusters the freedom to work under the extreme conditions they now find themselves in on the Gulf Coast.
Because recovery from Katrina will be a long-term effort, Crawford has also stepped up recruiting and training efforts to meet the rising demand for adjusting services.
“In my 40 years in the industry, I’ve never seen anything like this,” Tom Crawford, Crawford president and CEO said after touring some of the devastation in Alabama and Louisiana. “This is completely unprecedented. Ordinarily when you begin processing claims from a disaster, you start in the hardest hit areas and work your way out. In this case, we have to start in the areas with less damage and work our way in to the more damaged areas as they become accessible.”
Crawford has established CAT command centers in Mobile, Ala. and Baton Rouge, La., and both are up and running, as are Crawford’s numerous local branch offices. Crawford has hundreds of adjusters deployed to the affected areas and is bringing in more as needed. Crawford has invested heavily in its Catastrophe Services Unit to make it the state-of-the-art, premiere catastrophe response program for the industry and is committed to providing unsurpassed quality and “Excellence In Everything We TouchSM.”
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