Southern California — Two major insurers are going the extra mile to help their policyholders affected by wildfires by deploying mobile response vehicles to the disaster area. Los Angeles–based Farmers Insurance Group of Cos. is helping thousands of its customers as they file claims and begin returning to their normal lives. Farmers is trying to make it as easy as possible to file a claim by continuing to offer mobile command centers and its Mobile Catastrophe Claims Bus to serve the most customers before they are allowed to return home.

The Farmers Mobile Catastrophe Claims Center Bus is a rolling customer support center equipped with technology that allows immediate claims handling, and is outfitted with the comforts of the home, such as a grill for on-the-spot meals.

As of yesterday, Farmers had received more than 5,500 claims. Foremost Insurance Group, one of the Farmers’ companies, has received more than 900 claims resulting from the fires and winds. The companies will continue to serve their customers with four mobile claims centers, located throughout Southern California, that enable customers to file on-the-spot claims.

Farmers has more than 400 claims adjusters in Southern California to assist victims of the fires.

Another company, Northbrook, Ill.-based Allstate Insurance Co., has deployed five additional Mobile Response Units, or mobile claims offices, in Southern California to support customers. With the two initial units that arrived in the affected areas earlier this week, Allstate now has seven Mobile Response Units and 150 claim adjusters in Southern California.

The Mobile Response Units are specially outfitted motor homes that provide a place for customers to meet with catastrophe specialists to begin the claim handling process.
Each of the customized vehicles is equipped with a multitude of different technologies so, when a disaster is declared, they are able roll directly into the disaster zone.

“We feel that we’ve leveraged multiple technologies to allow us to serve our customers better and allows us to really improve a bad situation," says Keith Heindl, senior planning consultant with Allstate.

The Mobile Response Units are able to link to a satellite that connects the mobile office back into the company’s network. At the same time, local wi-fi access is broadcast from the vehicle to allow Allstate’s claims personnel to handle claims wirelessly.

Currently, according to Heindl, Allstate has six Mobile Response Units in service, a seventh used for testing and three transportable units to be used to supplement the RV fleet in case of a disaster. They also have the capability to lease any vehicle from a rental facility, attach a transportable satellite network unit and deploy that in a disaster area as well, giving them a total of nine to 10 Mobile Response Units that can be enabled at any given point in time.

In addition, Allstate has set up a special phone line for customers to report new claims or get information on an existing claim.

Sources: Farmers Insurance Group and Allstate Insurance Co.

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