Strength to Take a New Step Forward
"My Relations with CSR" delivers messages of experiences and perspectives from people involved in the Tokio Marine Group's CSR activities.
We Deliver to Customers the Strength to Take a New Step Forward
Immediately following the Great East Japan Earthquake that occurred on March 11, 2011, Tokio Marine & Nichido established Disaster Management task forces, one in its head office and one each in the disaster-stricken areas, and sent staff from throughout the country to the local branches to make swift payments of insurance claims and smoothly provide relevant services to earthquake victims.
This year, we asked Takeshi Ryogoku of the Fukushima Branch of Tokio Marine & Nichido to share his experience and give details of the work carried out in the post-disaster period.
- QWhat was your immediate response and what activities were undertaken after the March disaster?
On that day, we were about to have a meeting with our customers when an emergency earthquake alarm went off on my mobile phone and the ground began to shake. It felt like a small earthquake at the beginning, but the shaking soon intensified and I began to fear for the worst-case scenario. On March 11, 2011, Iwaki City was hit by an earthquake having an intensity of level 6 out of 7 levels on the Japanese seismic scale and also sustained damage from the tsunami.
The next day following the disaster, we promptly started accounting for our agents. Because mobile phone connections were bad in Iwaki City, we used our TNet online agent system to communicate with our agents and worked to set up an emergency response structure within our branch.
Our agents were anxious and worried since many of our customers were taking shelter in evacuation centers and were difficult to reach. We again used TNet to send messages to our customers every day, telling them to contact us for any inquiries.
Immediately following the disaster, Tokio Marine & Nichido set and worked toward the goal of completing housing and property damage appraisals required for making earthquake insurance payments within two months.
Some of us, including myself, were not familiar with appraisal procedures for earthquake insurance but were determined not to become a bottleneck in the overall payment process. We had about 2,000 cases awaiting appraisal, and as an "advance team," two of us were assigned to this special task. We pressed ahead and tried to visit as many customers as possible before being joined by teams of support staff from other branches across the country.
- QWhat supported the difficult appraisal task?
Customers we visited on the first day all looked relieved when they saw us, telling us they weren't sure if we were really coming. That look of relief on their faces as they stood in front of their destroyed houses was what moved us. From the next day onward, we spent hours in mud and devoted ourselves to the appraisal work. I was very happy when our customers and agents later told me that they had not expected us to go that far and that insurance gave them the confidence to go on. All of our efforts were dedicated to providing reassurance and making insurance payments to customers at the earliest possible opportunity.
Iwaki City lost some of its vitality because of the disaster and harmful rumors caused by the nuclear power plant accident that occurred in its aftermath. In this difficult situation, we all felt that it was our duty to provide our customers with the strength to take a new step forward and that their as well as the city's recovery from the disaster would start with our paying insurance claims.
- QHaving experienced the disaster, how do you regard insurance now?
In April, we began to receive support staff from throughout the country and were able to establish a more efficient internal claim settlement structure. There were cases in which we were able to make insurance payments within three days after accepting the required forms.
From immediately after the disaster we'd had a steady flow of relief materials from every part of the country, and the entire company made all-out efforts to support the devastated areas. When I saw a message, "Iwaki, don't give up!" written across a box of rice sent from the Yamagata Branch, tears of gratitude filled my eyes. The company-wide support efforts for the disaster areas freed us from worry and allowed us to concentrate solely on customer and agent services.
Insurance companies, including Tokio Marine & Nichido, routinely examine anticipated risks and recommend insurance products to customers to prepare themselves against these risks. When a risk turns into an emergency, our most crucial role is to swiftly make payments of insurance claims.
I believe that insurance provides people with the courage to move on and take a step toward tomorrow. I have again recognized that Tokio Marine & Nichido can support people even in a disaster of unprecedented magnitude and bring them the strength to take a new step forward.
We will proactively implement other initiatives including providing relevant information to bring greater security to our customers.