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CASE STUDY

Supporting vulnerable customers during Covid-19

Two claims

In December 2020 MA Assist was appointed on a property claim with vulnerable customers involving an escape of water (EOW) in a bathroom. We appointed our contractor Property Services SDS.

When SDS arrived on site it was clear they were dealing with vulnerable customers – an elderly couple with mental health issues in the middle of a worldwide pandemic. Explaining the process to the customers was difficult and SDS immediately notified us of their concerns.

SDS carried out their initial survey, amended the pre-scoped schedule of works and submitted it for approval.

In January 2021 a separate EOW claim was notified to us and we appointed SDS again as they were already involved with the first claim. This time a leak from the attic had caused damage in the spare bedroom.

SDS quickly updated the second pre-scoped schedule of works and submitted it for approval.

Accommodating

The bathroom needed to be completely stripped out and so alternative accommodation was needed – the customers were far too frail to stay in the home with the disruption that the works would cause. However hotels were closed because of the lockdown and so the claim had to be parked until the hotels opened up again.

To avoid distressing the couple their son, Sam, was appointed as the primary contact for the claim and from the start SDS were able to accommodate a sensitive approach to dealing with the customers. They ensured that they communicated with Sam so that he could explain everything to his parents as the claim progressed.

Once alternative accommodation was arranged SDS started works and they identified further variations. To save the insurer’s costs for alternative accommodation and to ensure that the customers would be back in their property ASAP, SDS continued with the works while approval was sought from the insurer.

SDS were very proactive in their communication with MA Assist, letting us know when variations would be coming over so we could get them prioritised and sent over to the insurer for quick approval.

Throughout the whole claim SDS were in constant communication with Sam by telephone and email, so that the customers were not overwhelmed with different people calling.

SDS’s contracts managers visited site many times to make sure everything was going OK and to ensure that Sam was kept informed about progress of the works at all times.

And the trades worked weekends to get the work done as quickly as possible.

Materials challenge

Getting the customers to choose materials was a challenge as they couldn’t get out to the shops and the son was too busy at work to run around getting samples.

The customers and their son asked SDS to choose tiles, paint and other materials that were as close a match as possible to the existing.

SDS bought materials that they thought were a close match, but once they started the works and had the products on site it became apparent that the customers were not happy with the tile choice made by SDS. SDS managed to source samples of similar tiles that the customer did indeed like and placed a new order.

As SDS were reaching the end of the claim the vinyl choice had not been made for the bathroom and the insurer’s flooring specialist had not been on site to see the customer about the replacement carpet to the bedroom.

MA Assist asked the insurer to chase the flooring specialist and to instruct them on the vinyl as well as the carpet to prevent any unnecessary delays on the claim.

The SDS contracts manager met the customers on the last day on site and went through all the works with them. They expressed their gratitude towards all the staff and management at SDS and MA Assist.

Supportive and caring work by everyone

SDS, MA Assist and the insurer worked well together to support these vulnerable customers during a stressful time. Good communication and co-ordination was key to the smooth management of this claim.

SDS had this to say at the end of the claim:

“It is easy for someone sat behind a desk to say that you should not have done this and that, and that if the customer has signed for something the buck stops there. We all have a duty of care towards the people that we work for, and on this claim even more so when the customers are elderly and vulnerable. We did what we had to do, even though it was at a cost to our company.”

The customers’ son emailed to say:

Your guys have been great every time I have had communication with them, and mum and dad have been very complimentary about the trades every time they have visited the property.

Some mix up over the flooring, but these things happen, but overall it’s all gone very well and they are thrilled with the new bathroom.

Thanks for your help and support through what has been a trying time.”

Well done SDS.