Claims: Catastrophe Response during a Pandemic, Part 4

July 01, 2020
By Brett Anderson, TAC Property Program Supervisor
Risk Management News

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This is part four of a four-part series on catastrophe response during a pandemic. The third article in the series covered law enforcement and emergency response.

We are experiencing unprecedented times with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in the midst of the Atlantic hurricane season. This will present extreme challenges should Texas be hit with another hurricane like Harvey or Tropical Storm Imelda.

In this article, we cover steps you should take should you sustain damages during this hurricane season and need to file a claim through your Texas Association of Counties Risk Management Pool (TAC RMP) coverage.

Damages Occurred, Now What?

Step 1 – File a claim

You should file a claim if you sustain damages. This can be done online, over email, via fax or simply by calling TAC RMP for help. Here's contact and other information about how to file a claim.
TAC RMP members have a designated Pool Coordinator who typically reports damages and files claims.  During the pandemic, it is important to designate one or two staff as backups in case the Pool Coordinator is out sick or helping sick family members.

The backups should know how to file a claim. This includes being familiar with the first notice of loss form for Property and Mobile Equipment as well as Auto Physical Damage.

If you maintain a hard copy of the notice of loss forms, as a lot of members do, be sure the Pool Coordinator and backup personnel have access to copies when working remotely during the pandemic.

Step 2 – Understand the claims process

After the claim is reported, it is important to understand how the rest of the claims process works to make appropriate safety plans and measures.

After a catastrophic event, an adjuster will be required to inspect damages. An engineer might be needed to assess the structural integrity of a building. TAC staff members will likely visit to see the damages and help you understand the claim process. Emergency service vendors will likely be necessary to protect properties from additional or secondary damage. In addition, contractors who repair the damages will likely have construction workers traveling in and out of an impacted area for months depending on the severity of the event.

Step 3 – Prepare to safely receive visitors and documents

Taking into consideration the number of visitors you will likely see, below are some suggestions to help protect you and other county personnel after a catastrophic event during this pandemic:

  • Ask what safety procedures vendors or individuals have in place before agreeing to meet.
  • Confirm if those visiting have been diagnosed with COVID- 19 or been around someone who has been diagnosed. 
  • Notify those visiting if anyone in your office has been diagnosed or been around anyone diagnosed.
  • Attempt to meet outdoors where possible and follow correct social distancing measures.
  • Use appropriate safety equipment, like masks and gloves, when meeting.
  • Have sanitization stations in areas where people might touch or otherwise come into contact with potentially contaminated surfaces.
  • Have a plan to frequently disinfect doors and other surfaces people come into contact with.
  • Consider other options like teleconferencing when reasonable and possible.

When damages are severe, there will be a lot of people visiting to help with the recovery. After the inspections and during the recovery consider the additional and necessary documents you will receive as part of the claims processes. You will likely be mailed claim payments, reports, contracts and estimates, etc. Consider having safety measures in place for handling and disinfecting mail. As a best practice, consider requesting all information electronically where possible.

Be sure to understand how to file a claim, the claims process, resources available, and make plans for appropriate safety measures prior to a catastrophic event during this pandemic.

TAC RMP is here to help. Please contact the claims department or your consultant should you have any questions or require additional help.  Find the TAC RMP consultants and claims department staff who serve you.

Additional claims contact information

Claims Department: (800) 456-5974
Business hours: 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
24/7 Claims Hotline: (855) 47CLAIM or (855) 472-5246
Claims fax: (512) 615-8942
Claims email: claims-cs@county.org