A Promise to Our Communities Is Our Business

By Mike Roche, Executive Vice President of Claims, Allstate

Unlike other companies, Allstate doesn’t make a mass of widgets. There are no factories that create what we sell. No assembly lines rolling off new products. What we sell is a promise—a promise to be there for our customers when it matters most. We’ve built our reputation on our ability to respond to disasters, both large and small, and restore people’s lives.

We’ve been insuring Americans for more than 80 years. In that time, we’ve come to realize that insurance plays an invaluable role in protecting the fabric of America. We offer communities and families the security they need in uncertain times. Part of this includes the footprint we leave before, during, and after a catastrophe.

When Mother Nature unleashes its fury, Allstate brings in its National Catastrophe Team (NCT) to help customers recover from their losses. Together, with employees from local claim offices and Allstate agency owners, our NCT mobilizes into action from staging areas. Initial response teams, which are deployed in advance of the storm, assess damage and provide intelligence to leadership on where to deploy resources.

Within hours, hundreds of team members begin arriving onsite. We begin canvassing impacted neighborhoods on foot and in cars to further assess damages and provide customers with immediate assistance. Natural disasters are the “ultimate moment of truth” for Allstate—an extreme test of our talents, dedication, and resources.

But our responsibility as an insurer transcends our standard business of handling claims after a loss. We also have an obligation to each and every community we serve to make it the best it can be. That’s why we work very closely with local, state, and federal agencies to leverage resources, share information, and provide customers with immediate assistance.

Take our response in Joplin, Missouri, for example. In May 2011, a massive tornado ripped a path of destruction there. While NCT members responded to the affected areas, Allstate agency owners and employees worked to rebuild the community. They started with some of Joplin’s smallest citizens—its children.

Our family of Allstaters in Missouri, Colorado, and Kansas led efforts to gather school supplies for affected students almost immediately after the disaster. In August, as Joplin students were nearing the start of school, Allstaters delivered $4,000 in supplies and gift cards, along with an Allstate Foundation grant for $25,000.

Even more than the commitment we place on protecting our customers’ hopes and dreams and restoring their security after a catastrophic event, we believe that we can play a vital role as an advocate for change. With this in mind, we continue to seek new solutions to the way government and the private sector can prepare for and respond to catastrophes.

We actively support ProtectingAmerica.org, a broadbased coalition that advocates for a stronger partnership between local, state and federal governments and the private sector to better prepare and protect Americans from natural disasters. This approach would abandon the often chaotic scramble to recover from the devastating aftermath of catastrophes by giving state and local governments more tools to protect citizens before, during, and after catastrophic events.

We remain focused on protecting people from natural disasters. We will continue to bring our experience and expertise to bear in finding new ways to protect American families. It’s what customers expect of us—that we’ll live up to the Good Hands promise we made when they chose Allstate. After all, customers are the reason we’re here. They have put their trust in us to be there to help during the most vulnerable times of their lives.

[Editor's note: This article is part of The Role of Business in Disaster Response report.]