Allstate’s National Catastrophe Team: On the Front Lines

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Allstate National Catastrophe Team

On Monday, Oct. 29, 2012, millions of people were getting ready for Sandy—what meteorologists described as a “strikingly powerful” storm.

But while many people were doing what they could to get out of the areas forecast to be affected by the storm, Allstate’s National Catastrophe Team was doing what it could to get as close to them as safely possible.

With 825 inside and field employees, the National Catastrophe Team supplemented its staff with independent adjusting firms, and deployed a fleet of Mobile Claims Centers, and smaller Catastrophe Response Vehicles, to service people affected by Sandy.

Team members stationed themselves near the affected region, so they would be ready to move in and help customers as soon as local authorities deemed it safe.

Set up in locations for those who need help most.

The Mobile Claims Centers, which have been in use by Allstate since 1999, set up shop in highly accessible locations—in the parking lots of major retailers, for instance—so Allstate policyholders who needed help the most could easily find them.

One of multiple strategies to help customers impacted by natural disasters, the MCC units are fully equipped with generators and satellite connections, so, even as much of the region impacted by Sandy was in the dark, members of Allstate’s National Catastrophe Team were able to start helping customers right away, setting up claims and even issuing checks for temporary living expenses, as well as handing out bottled water and teddy bears.

“Unfortunately, after truly devastating storms, customers [sometimes] come to us for assistance with literally nothing more than the clothes on their backs,” said Mike Paul, who oversees the Mobile Claims Center program for the National Catastrophe Team. “Because we are physically onsite following a storm, we can immediately begin the claims process.”

On occasion, if a local Allstate agent’s facilities are inoperable due to a catastrophe, MCCs may be set up near the agent’s office to help customers, Paul said.

In this way, Allstate customers have the benefit of personal service from their agents, who live in their communities and understand what they’re going through, as well as the National Catastrophe Team, which brings in the personnel and facilities to help them in their time of need.

Since 1999, when the first MCC unit hit the road, the fleet has been an important tool for the National Catastrophe Team, which, itself, was established in 1996 after Allstate responded to Hurricane Andrew in South Florida.

Paul has been involved in the recovery efforts for numerous storms, including major events like Hurricanes Katrina and Gustav.

Part of ‘something bigger’ than yourself

“This is what we love to do.  This is kind of our calling,” he said. “You feel like you’re part of something bigger than yourself when responding to a major disaster. This is where the rubber meets the road, where our customers need us the most.”

Last year, after more than a decade of success with the MCC units, the National Catastrophe Team started a new program, launching a fleet of Catastrophe Response Vehicles, which are smaller vehicles that allow Allstate personnel to actually go through affected neighborhoods to individual policyholders’ houses to check on them after a catastrophe.

Visit The Allstate Blog for an upcoming look at the National Catastrophe Team’s CRVs, the newest strategy in Allstate’s response to natural disasters.

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