By: Callum Micucci, Published on September 15, 2016 07:55 PM, Last Update on September 16, 2016 12:57 PM
Insurance companies have been warned that they are not meeting customer needs in the wake of the Fort McMurray wildfire. That is the view of the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), the organization pointing out that the huge volume of claims means insurance companies are struggling to cope.
Speaking to CBC News, the bureau’s vice-president Bill Adams said that insurance companies are likely getting things wrong in the busy claims period since the Fort McMurray fire. “We don’t always get it right,” Adams said. “I’d be the first to admit that.”
He explained that the amount of claims means mistakes will happen. “It’s not because there’s any intention of getting it wrong. It’s the reality that our industry is facing with 45,000 claims to manage just out of Fort McMurray.”
Adams admits that the industry has never had to deal with this amount of claims before. The Fort McMurray wildfire dubbed the Beast resulted in the largest insurance loss in Canadian history. The Albertan town was inundated by flames in May and nearly 3,000 properties were lost and 85,000 residents were displaced for nearly month.
Insurance companies responded quickly to the event, sending claims teams to the area. However, there simply was not enough staff to deal with all claimants. There have been some complaints that insurers have failed some of the town’s residents. However, the IBC says the sheer number of claims has been hard to deal with.
The group says it saw a massive increase in calls in the immediate aftermath of the fire, resulting in the IBC needing to quadruple its call-center staff. This often overlooked aspect of the cost of the wildfire is significant. Insurance companies lost around $4.5 billion from Fort McMurray, and had to make sure they drafted in more staff to deal with the volume of claims and enquiries.
In its latest update, the IBC says the storm is now calming and call volume has returned back to pre-Fort McMurray levels.