Canadian Underwriter

Private Lives: How to ensure discretion for your HNW clients’ claims

November 23, 2021   by Brooke Smith

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Privacy is an essential part of insurance and for high net worth (HNW) clients, it’s even more important to be discreet — particularly if they have insurance claims.

“For a HNW client, [any kind of loss] resulting in a claim can be stressful or an inconvenience,” said Gisèle Kupsh, National Ovation Claims Leader with Aviva Insurance.

“Some of these clients are in the spotlight so much that when they do have something personal happen to them — they lose a piece of jewellery, there’s a break-in — they want to keep it private,” she said. “If they have to turn to their insurance broker, and then ultimately their insurer, they want to know [their claims] are being looked after as expeditiously as possible, without any sort of undue attention.”

But how can brokers and insurers guarantee they’ll deflect that unwanted attention?

Get to know the client. “We check their profile to see who they are. Any information or context on the client helps us ensure we’re taking the best precautions to protect their privacy,” said Kupsh.

Set up a method of communication that suits the client. “We communicate with the customer through channels in the manner they prefer,” she said. That could be via phone, encrypted emails or text; in person; or through a designate.

“Many times, clients have a family member, perhaps an executive assistant or even an agent who handles their requests,” she added. “We’ll adjust claims through any of these people, provided we have authorization from the insured and the broker.”

Non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) can also help ease clients’ minds.

“In some instances, we will sign an NDA with the customer before we even begin to handle their claims,” said Kupsh.

That provides added comfort. “Once we enter that estate or property, [the client] wants to feel comfortable that we won’t take unnecessary photographs of the areas but limit ourselves only to damage we need to address.”

Vendor partners are also informed of the importance of discretion and privacy.

“We make sure any interactions or site visits are planned so as not to raise attention to the incident and our handling of the claim,” she said. That could mean asking any restoration companies or sub-trades to work off-hours, use unmarked vehicles or use a back entrance to the property.

 And, vendor partners along with claims adjusters, are vetted to ensure they have experience dealing with HNW clients. An integral part of this vetting process focuses on discretion. Adjustors and partners must agree to follow all outlined privacy expectations.

While brokers and insurers can put procedures in place to ensure their clients avoid unwanted attention, privacy is not 100% guaranteed.

“HNW customers don’t want anyone — neighbours, staff, media, fans — to know about their claims,” she said. However, an incident can sometimes be picked up by the media. (Think of the February 2021 single-vehicle accident in California involving a very famous golfer.)

“We have no control over [the media],” said Kupsh, “but we always strive to resolve the claim as quickly as possible, to limit speculations and get the customer back to normal.”

It’s all about priority concierge-level service and working in partnership with the broker.

“The VIP or HNW broker knows the client the best,” she said, “so we often take our cues from what our broker partner is telling us to do.”


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