The East coast of the United States has experienced a rough seven days from the earthquake centered in Virginia to Hurricane Irene. The good news for everyone is neither event was very severe and most of the major damage was localized to a few areas. Not to minimize the impact to those affected, but both could have been much worse. The earthquake was a surprise, but we had a good idea of what was going to happen with Irene. The US insurance industry appears to have responded well to the challenge, delivering exceptional customer service.

Many carriers are still very behind in adoption of social media and much is made of using social media as marketing tools to attract new customers. Even fewer are using social media as a means to retain customers. Facebook, Twitter and other services are a great way to communicate with customers in the event of a catastrophe whether it is expected (Irene) or not (the earthquake). Neal Ungerleider with Fast Company magazine wrote an article last week called “Text Messages Aren't Enough When Natural Disasters Strike.” The article discusses relying on social media during disasters too much and the pitfalls of not being able to receive information when power and communications are disrupted. All of that is true and legitimately disconcerting. But, the disruption of power and communications also affects TV, papers and possibly radio. All of whom require the same methods of communication that web consumers rely on.

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