Cunningham Lindsey UK - Maintenance Line

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Whether someone is insured or not, they can now receive emergency assistance at any time during the day or night following a water accident, before too much damage is done, writes Jamie Dunkley

Round-the-clock rescue

Sponsored by Concept

Finalists 2008

Merlin Professional
- Crawford & Company
- Cunningham Lindsey UK
- Large Loss Screening
- Cunningham Lindsey UK
- Maintenance Line

Cunningham Lindsey UK's Maintenance Line initiative was designed to deal with awkward situations at the most testing of times. Picture the scene, it's midnight and a pipe bursts in a flat. The tenant calls their landlord but he doesn't have access to his files and is forced to trawl through the Yellow Pages, while water gushes throughout the flat, with the likely consequence, an increase in the cost of the claim.

This is where Maintenance Line comes in - a simple initiative designed to put insurers, brokers, landlords and tenants back in control of emergency repairs. The firm created a new, fully branded out-of-hours service, delivered by advisers from its existing help line team. And by swiftly responding to emergencies, whether they are insured or not, Maintenance Line helps clients mitigate losses at the earliest possible opportunity.

The way it is funded is also rather unusual. Rather than pay per call-out, each unit of accommodation is charged a fixed, low-cost annual subscription. And as happy customers have renewed and new ones come on board in 2007, unit volume has increased rapidly. In fact it is on track to more than double again in 2008 as agreed new schemes go live.

Indeed, Maintenance Line's performance against its commercial targets has been impressive, with 95% of its customers retained - above its target of 90% - and a profit of £91,000, which is £30,000 over its target.

One of the key strengths of the initiative is cost effectiveness, which was illustrated by a case study in November last year. In this instance, a lessee discovered water dripping from his kitchen ceiling after a break occurred in the inlet pipe in the flat above him. The man didn't know where to find his stopcock and called Maintenance Line. Within two hours, a plumber was on-site to trace the damaged pipe, stop the flow of water and limit the cost of the damage to £750 in the process.

Cunningham Lindsey UK estimates from its experience of handling thousands of incidents like this each year that if the water had carried on flowing for another two hours, the ceiling would have collapsed. And replacing it and redecorating the kitchen would have cost somewhere in the region of £2750.

If the problem had continued for eight hours, all kitchen units would need to be replaced. The flat would be uninhabitable, adding loss of rent and the expense of alternative accommodation to the bill and the water would have also penetrated the flat below, taking the claims cost to £22,750.

Maintenance Line uses skilled technicians and loss adjusters, experienced with dealing with distressed callers. The company has also invested in IT and telephony, meaning it is able to set up branded services and tailored matrices for each client. It also includes a triage system, tailored to each client, which helps advisers establish quickly how urgent a problem is and whether an out-of-hours visit is necessary.

The scheme has a pre-approved national network of contractors, with agreements in place that guarantee supply, fix competitive call-out rates and set service levels. These include: answering calls within 20 seconds - of which it has a 95% success rate - against key service levels in 2007; contractors pledging to contact customers within 30 minutes of instruction, where it has a 100% success rate; and contractors being on site within two hours of instruction, where it has an 80% success rate.

Finally, the scheme has a seamless link with claims handling and loss adjusting, meaning customers do not have to give their details to several sets of people. Maintenance Line is a win-win solution for everybody concerned - by covering uninsured emergencies, it helps mitigate insured losses too - going beyond conventional buildings insurance and funded emergency assistance insurance, while supporting both.

As a result, it has reduced claims spend for insurers. It also gives brokers an added-value service that helps them differentiate their offering and win more business. And it is helping take the stress away from managing agents and giving their customers a better service.

It has also been a success for Cunningham Lindsey UK as it has generated referrals for its contractor network, helped it secure more nominations for claims handling and loss adjusting and, because it is delivered by existing staff, it helps the loss adjuster make more efficient use of existing resources.

Ultimately, what makes Maintenance Line a winner is its ability to give insurers the peace of mind that policyholders can notify an emergency at any time of the day and night - definitely an award winning feeling.

WINNING WORDS

Customer driven initiative is a resounding success, says Martin Geyer.

Martin Geyer, innovations director at Cunningham Lindsey, played a significant role in the launch and development of Maintenance Line and collected the Loss Adjusting Initiative of the Year Award on the company's behalf.

He said of his company's win: "It is thrilling to win this award for a customer-driven initiative. Maintenance Line delivers triage-based emergency assistance on behalf of managing agents and landlords for the benefit of lessees and tenants of blocks of flats and other housing developments. By covering uninsured emergencies, it helps mitigate insured losses as well - going beyond conventional buildings insurance and funded emergency services, while supporting both.

"The inspiration behind Maintenance Line was Chris March, director at Countrywide Property Management, and we are delighted that it has been developed in collaboration with the Association of Residential Managing Agents for its members, their landlord clients and their lessees and tenants. Special mention must also go to Sean Neal, partner at CP Walker, which introduced Maintenance Line to its property protector scheme, distributed via the Broker Network.

"Praise for operational delivery goes to Helpline manager Kelly Robinson and the entire Helpline team. Also Richard Ayton-Robinson of Oriel, Cunningham Lindsey's assured repairs business, as well as client nominated plus specialist procured suppliers, which have made the fulfilment of the service such a resounding success."

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