Hoarding – 2 Things Agents and Adjusters Should Know When Faced With A Hoarding Claim

Hoarding – 2 Things Agents and Adjusters Need To Know When Faced With a Hoarding Claim

Agents and adjusters have been increasingly been challenged with insurance claims that involve hoarding. Their are two key things that will help insurance professionals limit their liability and close these claims quicker.


Potential Environmental Hazards

Potential environmental liabilities range from poor indoor air quality to unseen structural damage and even exposure to wild animals (snakes, rats, bats etc.) that may have infested the property. Key to limiting your exposure is to have a relationship in place with a restoration contractor that is trained to handle hazardous conditions.

The Emotional Component of Closing a Hoarding Claim

When a loss occurs in a hoarding environment, it can quickly become an extreme claims situation. We’ve had claims where we’ve gone in to do restoration work, removed contents, and the hoarder has decided that they want all their things back, There needs to be a very high degree of empathy to ensure that the client’s sensitivities are taken into consideration. Make sure your restoration contractor understands and is experienced to handle this.

Read More In Your Monthly Contents Solutions Newsletter 
Clean moves, the ONLY Contents Processing Center (CPC) in Maine is dedicated to providing agents and adjusters the latest information on handling contents claims. To view your news letter click on the link below. 

Two new CEU opportunities are being offered at no charge, for Insurance Professionals in Maine.  The first is:

How Much Do You Know About Pollution Exclusions? 
Approved for 4 CEU’s
Thursday, June 25th 2015
Falmouth Country Club
8:30-12:30 with lunch following

If you are like most independent agents, you know very little about pollution exclusions. Regardless of whether you ever plan on selling an environmental policy, this is not good for your commercial clients. Pollution exclusions are the longest exclusions in insurance policies and they are the least understood. Here is an opportunity to learn the true effects of pollution exclusions and how to close the resulting coverage gaps in both property and liability insurance policies by utilizing environmental insurance.If you think pollution exclusions only apply to hazardous waste, you really need to attend this class. A world class expert will show you how to fill environmental coverage gaps for your customer base.

David Dybdahl is the founder and president of American Risk Management Resources Network, LLC, in Middleton Wisconsin. He specializes in environmental risk management and insurance serving as an independent wholesale insurance broker/technical resource/consultant/expert witness. He has over thirty years of hands on experience in the placement of environmental insurance including; creating the first Contractors Pollution Liability policy in 1986.

The second is :

Contents Restoration 2015
Approved for 2 CEU’s
Thursday, July 9th 2015
Clean Moves
9 Willey Road, Saco Maine
2:00 – 4:00
Includes a walkthrough of the only Contents Processing Center (CPC) in Maine

New technology and financial incentives have put contents restoration on center stage for insurance professionals. Over the past decade, procedures for contents restoration have advanced from “primitive” to technologically advanced.

Jim Plunkett and Deb Ohmeis General Manager of Clean Moves Maine’s only Contents Preocessing Center (CPC), will present where the contents restoration industry was and where it is going and a tour of the facility is included.

These courses are offered at no charge, but seats are limited so you must RSVP to info@clean-moves.com or by calling Rose or Iris at 207-828-2900.

If you have any questions contact me directly at jim@clean-moves.com 207-794-5800.

Interested in learning more about Maines only Contents Processing Center (CPC)? Go toClean Moves

Most carriers have lacked a well- thought-out strategy for handling contents claims. Yet, personal lines spending for contents totals more than $7 billion annually. Usually, the current procedure when a loss occurs is to have an adjuster provide consumers with a contents inventory form and ask them to fill it out themselves.

What’s the result of these current practices? Because of inaccurate content claims and replacement processes, it is estimated carriers overpay 25 percent for contents claims. That is a net loss of $1.75 billion in overpayments every year, not to mention the poor customer satisfaction of consumers, who often have to wait six months or longer to settle claims and fully replace lost contents. Needless to say, every man for himself is not a strategy that works.

A transition is occurring to finally address this pressing issue in which carriers lose billions and consumers continue to harbor resentment and negative opinions about the insurance industry as whole.

In a July 2009 report published by Towers Perrin titled, “Property & Casualty Claim Officer Survey #3: Claim Technology and Applications,” the majority of claim officers surveyed said that their organizations plan to make claim technology investments within the next two years. Survey respondents cited the need to improve the customer experience, accelerate claim cycle times, and better management information systems/reporting as the top three objectives for making near-term technology investments.

Since then, things have progressed, albeit slowly, as carriers have begun to dedicate staff and protocol specifically for contents claims. However this transition can’t be done alone. As you will learn, successful contents restoration requires a partnership with a vendor that has also recognized this transition and has made the appropriate (and significant) investment in a contents processing facility.

In the case of fully outsourced contents claim technology and services, carriers can rely on a vendor or vendors with a core competency and sole focus on contents. The key to success is to integrate vendor technology and personnel closely with the insurer.

Each carrier has unique needs, perspectives, best practices, and cultural norms regarding reliance on outsourced technology and services, so there is no “one-size-fits-all” best-practices approach. The most important change required is the recognition that contents claims are an important discipline that requires dedicated knowledge experts, technology, and service professionals to execute properly and cost effectively.

As an increasing number of carriers adopt emerging technology and service solutions that can scale across the organization and each phase of the process, it becomes clearer that the days of the wild, wild west of contents claims are numbered. It’s just a matter of which carriers get there first to realize the dramatic cost savings and improved customer satisfaction that comes with fast and accurate settlements that help consumers get back into their homes and on with their lives.   

Most businesses know it costs 5-10 times more to get a new customer than it does to keep an existing one. This is especially important for insurance carriers and agents as they can lose a customer with just one mishandled claim. Providing a safe, structured environment that assists and encourages customers to participate (at their convenience) and follow the entire progression of their claim, helps achieve faster, more agreeable settlements with higher satisfaction levels and less exposure to liability and litigation issues.

While most of your insured are not familiar with (and often not interested in) the details of the restoration of their structure, their personal property…is…well…personal.

Screenshot 2015-03-20 09.20.29

The contents claim process should be viewed as an essential opportunity to connect with and service your insured while building trust. When this is done well, it results in a much higher customer retention rate and increased referrals. And, looking ahead, these references become the foundation of your online reputation.

So, how do you use the contents claim process to increase your customer satisfaction and get more referrals?

First, partner with a contents solutions company that has a Contents Processing Center (CPC) who’s sole existence is to restore contents damaged by smoke and water.

These companies have invested in these facilities because they understand the issues associated with their services (which are substantial). They have employee training and standard operating procedures in place, to prevent and manage many of the issues that have plagued the contents restoration industry for years.

In facilities like the one pictured, items and item conditions are well documented using a digital inventory with digital images, before any work is started. This inventory is the backbone of every contents claim from start to finish.  Each jobs contents are tracked in the CPC during the entire restoration process, with scannable id tags, so the insured can see their personal property, at any time, giving your customer a sense of transparency and collaboration. This can go a long way with overall customer satisfaction compared to having their contents randomly stored in a commercial storage facility which they can’t access.

Second, make sure you and your contents solutions partner have a “satisfaction guaranteed” policy for your insured. This guarantee will have to come from your contents solutions partner so you do not have to pay twice for any items. Also, make sure that everyone (the insured, the contents solution partner and the agent/adjuster) have all signed off on the most expensive items and whether they are going to be replaced or restored once the inventory is completed.

When you have these two issues addressed, your contents claims should be handled as quickly as possible, to keep the claim moving. The underpinning for this is the digital inventory of contents, including pictures and determinations of whether or not they can be restored. This inventory can be handled by your contents solutions partner immediately following the claim notification.

If all of this is done well, the agent, insurance company and contents solutions provider not only keep an existing customer, they most likely will receive additional referrals from the insured.

So, the next time that you get a contents claim and get that dreaded feeling about what a hassle it is, look at things from a different perspective and get the edge on your competitors by taking a proactive approach to your contents claims.

For decades, contents restoration was accomplished using slow, labor-intensive hand cleaning methods. Cleaning quality was often inconsistent because it was dependent on the capabilities of each individual on the cleaning crew. When ultrasonic technology was introduced to the restoration industry in the mid-1990s, cleaning efficiency began to improve and so did production.

With ongoing advancements in technology and chemistries, almost everything can be processed in-house, including electronics. Contents cleaning operations require fast turnaround times and cleaning efficiency. As a result, new concepts in contents restoration have been developed that utilize industrial stage-cleaning techniques similar to those used by the manufacturing industry.

These assembly line operations have been tailored to address the diverse cleaning challenges of contents cleaning and employ a system of checks and balances to insure consistent quality throughout the restoration process. Proper implementation of these systems results in accelerated cleaning productivity and lower production costs. For example, in an ultrasonic stage-cleaning system items are no longer cleaned individually but rather by the box. The contents of each box remain together as it moves through the system.

Contents restoration is a complex undertaking because it involves dealing with various item categories, material classifications, residue types and residue levels. No single cleaning procedure can effectively address all of these variations. The objective of ultrasonic stage-cleaning is to create a continuous flow of content items moving through the cleaning line without interruption. It is therefore imperative that all content items be properly organized and boxed according to item category, residue type, and residue level; these classifications determine the cleaning procedures and line setups required for successful processing.

State of the art soft goods cleaning technology (although often done by many restoration contractors with standard dry cleaning services) employs special cleanning formulations and pressurized systems.

Contents processing has evolved due to demand. It is now possible to deal with heavy-duty cleaning challenges and delicate tasks simultaneously in a continuous flow of production. Stage-cleaning breakthroughs are currently being implemented and it appears that contents restoration is moving to center stage with Insurance carriers.



For the past 15 Years and even up to just recently, insurance companies have not focused too much on personal property. For one, it has always been the nemesis of their existence; tedious, time consuming, high fraud potential and ultimately, usually customer dissatisfaction. For this reason, a cash-out was easiest solution to expediting the claims process.

Like all businesses, the insurance carriers look at their bottom line and after years of fine tuning the structure, they had to start looking at other areas to lower cost; contents is now that area of focus.

Insurance companies have now started incorporating specialized contents adjusters and claims handlers and are outsourced contents inventory specialists to speed up the claims cycle. Taking the textiles out of the hands of full service providers and mitigation companies, carriers and adjusters cut out the middle man and honed in on the largest potential area of recovery. The savings was tremendous; saving thousands off the bottom line.

Here is where Clean Moves comes into the equation. A full service in-house contents specialized company, recovering more than just textiles and shaving more off the bottom line for the carrier and for the agent looking to lower their loss ratios.

Screenshot 2015-03-20 09.20.29Once mostly consisting of manual inventory and labor intensive manual cleaning methodology, today, the leading contents restorers like Clean Moves employ cloud-based inventory software Assuredwith digital photo imaging and advanced cleaning technologies like ultrasonics, ozonation and new washing systems that combine hydraulic pressure and advanced detergent formulations, combined with state-of-the-art computer control systems.

When these technologies are combined with standard operating protocol and trained personnel, the results compared to manual contents management are astounding. The industry is claiming a better than 90% success rate and a greater than 80% savings over replacement.

Insurance carriers are now recognizing this and focusing on contents restoration as viable option to restore instead of replace contents. Several carriers are establishing their own specialized contents teams and divisions.

The Results

By using a contents specialist, insurance companies and adjusters

Lower Their Costs - The industry is claiming a better than 90% success rate and a greater than 80% savings over replacement.

Reduce Their Claim Cycle Time – The procedures used by Clean Moves include:

• Immediate on-site inventory.

• 72 hour turn around of inventory including items that can’t be restored, so the adjuster has data to make claims decisions.

• Replacement cost estimates provided for items that can’t be restored at insurers request. Satisfaction guarantee including no charge for items that aren’t restored to the customer’s satisfaction, so the carrier doesn’t pay twice.

Increase Their Customer Service and Satisfaction – Having a leading Contents Solutions company like Clean Moves:

• Takes the inventory burden off the insured

• Makes the carrier look proactive during a time of high stress, by giving the insured a 24 hour turn around on specific clothing and sentimental items and providing a 72 hour turn around of inventory including a list of items that can’t be restored, so both the adjuster and the insured have more control over the contents claim.

• Allows the insured to inquire about specific items, because of our tracking and chain of custody operating procedures that allow us to know where every item is at any given time.

What You Can Expect From Clean Moves

Every fire is different. In both water and smoke/fire damage incidents, time is of the essence as prolonged exposure to moisture, smoke and soot only exacerbates the problem. Here is what you can expect from Clean Moves:

We will be your partner exclusively focused on contents, reducing your contents claims costs and accelerating your claims cycle.

Contact us today at 207-794-5800 if you want to find out more!