Best practices to assist clients during a claim

April 8, 2024

Rarely is the role of the insurance agent or broker ever more important to a client than when that client has experienced a claim. Guiding clients through the claims process is a critical component of the agent’s or broker’s job. It involves not just a deep understanding of the policies, but also a compassionate approach to client management.

However, navigating the claims process can be tricky. Between communicating with your client, carriers and third parties to managing client expectations, the claims process quickly can become a quagmire for agents. Let’s outline some best practices for assisting clients during claims, highlighting how to facilitate a smooth process while minimizing the possibility of an errors-and-omissions claim.

Can you hear me now?

Effective communication with your clients is perhaps the single most important aspect of successfully managing a claim. Always keep them informed about each step of the claims process. Remember typically clients will have little, if any, experience with insurance claims. They will be relying on you, the insurance professional, for guidance and pertinent updates.

Explain the timelines, the paperwork involved, and what they can expect during each phase. Encourage questions and provide clear, concise answers. Remember, what seems obvious to you might be completely foreign to your client. Included in good communications, is being clear with your client about expectations both in how long the claim might take to be settled and the ultimate cost of the claim.

Flex your brain

Your clients are going to turn to you—the insurance professional—to answer their questions about their insurance policies. Because of this, you need to have an in-depth understanding of your clients’ policies. This knowledge allows you to set realistic expectations about what is covered and what is not. Be prepared to explain policy terms in simple language and how they apply to the current claim. Remember: While you may be the expert, it’s OK to not have all the answers. If you don’t know the answer to your clients’ questions, tell them that. Then call PIA Northeast, so we can help you find them.

Document, document … and document!

Documentation is your best defense against E&O claims. In your agency, you should have a firm documentation policy that incorporates claims coming from multiple sources. And, you need to make sure that all of your team members are familiar with, and follow each policy.

The documentation policy for a claim reported over the phone might be different than the procedure for a claim reported via email. It also is important to have a policy on submission of a claim through social media. Many agencies utilize social media to connect to their clients, however agents may not want clients to conduct official business—like submitting a claim—through social media. Keep detailed records of all communications, including emails, calls and meetings. Document advice given, decisions made and actions taken. This will be invaluable if there’s ever a dispute about the handling of the claim.

Be an advocate

There are few times more stressful for a client than in the immediate aftermath of a loss. While agents must adhere to the terms of the policy, as well any agency agreements with insurance carriers, advocating for your client’s best interests within those parameters is essential. This includes negotiating with adjusters and ensuring the claim is processed fairly and promptly. Demonstrating empathy and understanding for your clients can go a long way in building trust and easing client anxiety. Listen to their concerns and acknowledge their feelings.

Be a teacher

Use the claims process as an educational opportunity. The best claim is the one that never happens. In the aftermath of a loss, take the time to educate your clients about risk management and prevention strategies. Discuss common risks associated with their policy type and provide tips on how to mitigate them. For instance, if a client has just faced a burglary claim, offer advice on security improvements or alert systems.

This proactive approach in teaching clients about potential risks and how to avoid future claims not only helps them in the long run, but it also cements your role as more than just an insurance agent; you become a trusted adviser and a resource for preventive strategies.

Additionally, consider providing regular informational resources, such as newsletters or workshops. These help to keep your clients informed and engaged in managing their risks effectively while simultaneously keeping your agency at the front of the client’s mind. Did you know that you can purchase personal-lines and commercial-lines newsletters through PIA, which can be sent to your clients to keep them informed of various exposures that they may have, and also serve as an E&O prevention tool for your agency? For more information, contact PIA Design & Print at (800) 424-4244 or

Build your network

Building relationships with adjusters, appraisers and other insurance professionals is more than just a professional courtesy; it’s a strategic move that can enhance the claims process for your clients significantly.

By having a robust network, you can expedite claims, access expert opinions quickly, and find solutions to complex claim issues more efficiently. These relationships allow for smoother negotiations and better understanding among professionals, which ultimately leads to more favorable outcomes for your clients. Regularly engage with your network through PIA events, professional groups, and ongoing communication to keep these relationships strong and mutually beneficial.


Handling client claims effectively is a blend of technical skill, thorough documentation, empathetic client management and relationship building. By following these best practices, you can enhance client satisfaction, foster long-term relationships, and uphold a high standard of professional service.

Remember, your role in guiding clients through the complexities of the claims process not only helps them navigate a difficult time, but it also strengthens the trust and credibility of your agency.

This article originally appeared in the March 2024 issue of PIA Magazine.

Bradford J. Lachut, Esq.
PIA Northeast | + posts

Bradford J. Lachut, Esq., joined PIA as government affairs counsel for the Government & Industry Affairs Department in 2012 and then, after a four-month leave, he returned to the association in 2018 as director of government & industry affairs responsible for all legal, government relations and insurance industry liaison programs for the five state associations. Prior to PIA, Brad worked as an attorney for Steven J. Baum PC, in Amherst, and as an associate attorney for the law office of James Morris in Buffalo. He also spent time serving as senior manager of government affairs as the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, a chamber of commerce serving the Buffalo, N.Y., region, his hometown. He received his juris doctorate from Buffalo Law School and his Bachelor of Science degree in Government and Politics from Utica College, Utica, N.Y. Brad is an active Mason and Shriner.

Related stories…

Share This