Interview with Rolf Widmer, Head of Claims at Verlingue
“So far we have got off lightly in Switzerland.”
A stormy weather period is behind us. Heavy hail was followed by heavy rain showers, which led to high streams, rivers and lakes. As a result, the waters overflowed their banks. Rolf Widmer is head of the claims team at Verlingue. In this short interview, he talks about his experiences and how the team coped with the many claims for clients in the last month.
Rolf Widmer Interview
• How many claims reports did the Verlingue claims team receive in the last four weeks due to the weather?
We had around 300 cases. Half of them were hail damage to vehicles, the rest mainly water ingress and occasional storm damage. The Upper Aargau region was badly affected with water damage, as was the Lucerne region with a lot of hail and groundwater ingress due to the rise in the lake level.
• Have you ever experienced this kind of damage? How often does something like this happen?
On an average working day we receive 25-30 damage reports, last month it was more than double. Damage of this severity occurs about every 3-5 years. In recent years, there have been many storms, such as Burglind in 2018, or local flooding after heavy thunderstorms.
• What impact do these loss events have on your team’s work?
Such storms lead to many extraordinary claims reports within a very short time and thus to an extra workload, especially in the first few days after such an event.
If you stay calm and can set priorities, you certainly have an advantage. Such peaks are part of claims supports, as is the case for the entire insurance industry (insurers and brokers) as well as the companies involved, such as drying companies and garages.
The effort is increased over months, because our claims support is not finished with the notification. Water ingress in particular is time-consuming to process and manage.
• How do customers benefit from having their insurance portfolio with Verlingue in the event of a claim?
They can report the case to us without having to worry about which policy or policies the damage is insured under. Particularly in the case of water penetration, several insurers are usually involved (note: buildings and/or property, natural hazards or water), which must be triaged and coordinated accordingly. As insurance broker we know the different cantonal conditions and can initiate the necessary measures. In addition, we make sure that the clients’ own contributions are not forgotten, give tips for immediate measures and check the damage settlements. It must be mentioned here, however, that the insurance companies are “doing a hell of a job” in the last few weeks.
Many clients appreciate having a fixed contact person who can advise them accordingly and relieve them of the effort. We give them tips and explain to them the procedure around the damage assessment of the insurance experts. However, due to the large number of claims, we cannot speed up the insurers’ procedure, which is why our clients need to be patient when dealing with the insurance companies.
If we take a look at Germany, we got off lightly in Switzerland – let’s hope it stays that way. Property damage can be compensated.
• How big is the claims team at Verlingue?
Our team consists of six people. The claims department is still being set up, but about half of the cases are already in this area (the other half are handled by the mandate manager teams in Zurich and Kriens). We are therefore looking for more claims specialists.
I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank everyone involved for their efforts and hope that the rest of the summer will not bring any more severe storms.