Be Prepared: Vetting is Essential for CAT Season Support

By Oyauma Garrison | July 10, 2017

Natural disasters are unforeseen and unpredictable — leaving a path of devastation and destruction in their wake. With catastrophe (CAT) season around the corner, insurance organizations need to take a look at their contingency plans.

If faced with the sudden and often overwhelming demand that accompanies disaster situations, is your organization prepared?

The Human Capital Crunch

When a catastrophe strikes — suddenly and disastrously — your organization’s response is only as good as its workforce. Unfortunately, many insurance organizations continue to operate on a “run lean” staffing plan, embracing the “doing more with less” mindset that emerged amid the Great Recession. Thus, they are often challenged to find the internal resources necessary to respond when a disaster hits. No matter how proactive organizations are in recruiting, resources are pushed to the brink and quickly tapped out in a time of disaster.

Timing is everything during these emergency CAT situations, lest an organization finds itself unable to adequately meet the needs of the insureds. As a result, catastrophes are one of the most common reasons insurance organizations turn to interim professionals.

With the insurance industry continuing to face a growing “war for talent,” hiring staff quickly is difficult. Many are turning to outside staffing firms to meet their emergency human capital needs. These temporary staffing firms can react immediately and efficiently when the need arises, providing immediate support and assistance.

Vetting a Staffing Partner

To best prepare for the CAT season, establish a relationship with a temporary staffing firm that can react quickly. It is important to do your due-diligence and vet potential partners to ensure they understand your business well enough to provide efficient and effective talent immediately.

Has the firm worked with CAT situations before, or is their focus more on general temporary solutions? You want to partner with an organization that has a track-record of providing talent to address disaster situations. There are unique challenges involved in CAT staffing, and partnering with an organization that has experience will decrease response time.

How quickly is the firm able to deploy people locally and remotely? In times of crisis, your organization wants to get “boots on the ground” as quickly as possible. Policyholders expect immediacy — and your organization needs to deliver. Make sure your temp staffing partner can activate talent at a moment’s notice. These individuals should be deployed immediately and arrive on location quickly. In addition, they should require minimal ramp-up time to ensure they can jump in and get to work.

How deep is the firm’s candidate pool? Look for an organization with a deep bench of positions, locations, disciplines and licensures. Their talent network should include a broad cross-section of interim professionals — from entry-level staff to subject matter experts. Having this range of talent is vital when responding to a CAT event. Organizations may also want to consider partnering with a boutique firm that has unique access to a database of professionals who already have insurance experience. These individuals understand the business and industry and are ready to make an impact.

Does the staffing firm ensure a specific level of care? You want to make sure your staffing partner guarantees a high level of service. At the end of the day, the talent represents your organization and brand. In high-stress situations, such as disasters and catastrophes, putting a good foot forward is key to maintaining positive interactions with your insureds.

CAT season is a critical time for most insurance organizations. The race is on to prepare and find a response to the high-demand experienced during a disaster. Plan interim staff is key. This strategy provides a unique and seamless response that enables your organization to respond quickly and effectively. Proactively developing a relationship with a temporary staffing partner can be the difference in successfully navigating the impending CAT season.

About Oyauma Garrison

Oyauma Garrison is senior vice president of The Jacobson Group, a provider of talent to the insurance industry. Phone: 800-466-1578. Email:

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Insurance Journal West July 10, 2017
July 10, 2017
Insurance Journal West Magazine

The Disaster Issue: Insuring Natural & Man-Made Catastrophes; Errors & Omissions