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Volume 30, Issue 3

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The restoration industry is constantly changing. With insurance providers adopting new e-commerce initiatives, restoration vendors also must adapt and implement e-commerce initiatives in their businesses.

Efficient Claim Processing Benefits Vendors and Customers

E-commerce and electronic claims handling are here today and will certainly be the future of the business. In the last several years, tremendous changes in the information industry have affected everyone in the property and casualty fields. Focused on claim-related business communication, insurance carriers and service providers have changed the way they acquire, store and transmit data for claim services. Electronic mail, Internet-based networks and searchable databases have brought the vision of a paperless claim to reality. Utilizing electronic communication, insurance providers and restoration vendors remain competitive in their respective markets while meeting the needs of their clients.

Performance by each party involved in the claims service effort is important to the insured. Length of response times and actions performed can make or break customers’ perceptions of how their claims are being handled. A customer’s perception that diligent effort was made to resolve their situation is important. The end result of efficient claim processing is customer retention and possible future referrals for both the insurance company and the restoration vendor. By working together on an e-commerce solution, both insurance carriers and service providers reap the benefits of reduced claim cycles, cost reduction and customer retention.

The greatest advantage in utilizing an e-commerce system is the timeliness of communication. A great deal of time is wasted while waiting for faxes, copies or return calls. Time is lost that could have been given to more pressing issues. In the electronic environment, the agent or adjuster can receive claims information, estimates and digital photos online.

With the U.S. Army’s thousands of soldiers, and base camp operations located throughout the world, even small incremental improvements in operations can reap real rewards in terms of efficiency, safety, and cost savings. Add to this the increasingly restrictive international, national and local laws regarding the environment and the health of citizens, and the stakes become that much higher.

Army base camp operations in the Balkans region of Europe – a significant hub of activity involving seven camps – are now the focus of a major Army initiative being conducted in concert with Hughes Associates, Inc. Dubbed the ambitious program name Zero Footprint Camp, this initiative is charting a whole new course for base camp operations design: the ability to move into an area, set up a base camp, and then – when the mission is accomplished and the camp is shut down – to leave no environmental trace behind.

These base camps are the equivalent of small cities, each one having the same resource requirements and environmental, safety and health issues as any small community. Countless supplies of water, food, fuel and personal items go into these camps. What comes out is waste in the form of sewage, trash, kitchen garbage, and “dirty water” from showers, kitchens and laundries. The traditional tactics for dealing with all this waste have been focused primarily on compliance with environmental regulations.

For Merrill Lynch and Co. Inc. preparedness and proper testing of contingency plans kept their company doing ‘business as usual’ following the terrorist attacks of September 11. Merrill Lynch is one of the world’s leading financial management and advisory companies. Their headquarters is located in the World Financial Center, directly across from where the World Trade Center towers once stood.

According to Paul Honey, Director of Global Contingency Planning, the financial firm was able to successfully evacuate their headquarters and resume critical management functions within minutes of the terrorist attack.

In addition to the company’s headquarters, several more of Merrill Lynch’s office buildings were affected by the terrorist attacks. In all, some 9000 employees were impacted by the event.

Contingency planners are trained to prepare for business interruptions of any type. But no contingency planner could have imagined the devastating events that occurred on September 11, 2001. The destruction and loss of life caused by the terrorist attack was astounding.

By now, the facts of the events have been well publicized. Terrorists hijacked U.S. commercial airlines and slammed them into the twin towers of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. A fourth hijacked plane crashed into a rural area of Pennsylvania. The World Trade Center Towers, which housed nearly 1,200 businesses, crumpled to the ground, sending clouds of debris and dust crashing down on rescuers and spectators. Billions of dollars in damage occurred and more than 6,000 people were killed.

In total, some 40,000 people worked in the World Trade Center. The loss of human life and the massive destruction was devastating to the nation and to the world.

As we go to press, many questions surrounding this tragic event remain unanswered. It is not yet known who is responsible for the attack, though strong suspicion has been cast upon a subject. It is also not known what response the United States will take against the terrorists and/or countries that were behind the attack. These questions will undoubtedly be answered as time goes by.
Other questions may take even longer to answer. Of the businesses that were affected, how many will be able to survive? What will be the long-term effects on the economy? How will employees who escaped the World Trade Center deal with the trauma?

Comdisco Supports Companies' Computer Operations

Comdisco, which specializes in reestablishing large computer systems for major corporations after a disaster, is currently supporting major business customers affected by terrorist attacks on Sept. 11.

- 47 companies have declared disasters with Comdisco. The 47 customers declared 93 separate disasters.
· All 47 companies initially relocated to and worked out of Comdisco facilities. At one point, there were 3000 customer employees working out of our facilities. As of Sept. 25, 20 companies had returned to their facilities.
·Customers have primarily requested workspaces, complete with PCs and phones. Comdisco configured thousands of PCs during the first 24 hours to support customers.
·Customer Industries: Primarily financial services firms: Banks, insurance companies, investment banking and brokerage houses. Comdisco is also supporting one of the New York exchanges.
·Most customers had operations in New York, seven customers were in the World Trade Center and others were in nearby buildings. Other customers declared disasters for operations in Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Atlanta because of building evacuations.
·Recovery Facilities/Capabilities: At its highpoint, Comdisco utilized 13 of its 23 U.S. recovery centers. As of September 24, seven Comdisco facilities were still in use.