Getting to Know: Karen Schuster
Klein & Company’s VP of sales shares how the temporary housing provider meets insurers' needs when disasters like Hurricane Matthew hit.
By Eric Gilkey
Klein & Company’s vice president of sales explains how the temporary housing provider works with insurers in times of disasters like Hurricane Matthew, and what she thinks makes a house a home.
On what she loves about temp housing:
“What I like most about my job is that it is fulfilling; it’s about helping people who have lost their homes in many instances, and they have no place to stay. When we get a call like this from someone who is in immediate need and we’re able to take care of them right away, I know I’m in the right industry because I’m doing something that I can be very proud of.”
On what makes for a good relationship with insurers and temporary housing professionals:
“What makes it work is when it’s a partnership. It’s not a ‘I work for you’ or ‘You work for me’ situation. It’s a partnership that is based upon mutual respect and an understanding of common goals. What’s ironic is that a good working relationship doesn’t feel like work at all—it just happens. The best way to accomplish this is to treat people how you want to be treated and, hopefully, they do the same. Everybody has their good days and their bad days, but when everyone is treated as a partner, that’s what really makes it work.”
On the claims and coverage issues she is seeing with Hurricane Matthew:
“There is definitely going to be an issue of lack of coverage rearing up with regard to Hurricane Matthew. A lot of the losses we’re seeing are due to Matthew’s storm surges, which caused extensive flooding. That means in many cases the coverage will fall to flood policies, which typically don’t have ALE coverage. So we are finding that the policyholder referrals that we received from insurers, which we then placed in hotels, don’t actually have coverage under their property policies, which puts everyone in a very difficult position. We have always found that insurers generally will honor what they initially approve, however.”
On trends in the temp housing industry:
“We communicate differently today than ever before. Social media like Twitter and Facebook are used, and I text claims professionals more often than not, since they prefer the easy access. It’s also a very quick way for us to communicate about our clients. Ten years ago, you would never think of texting a client, but now it happens all of the time. It’s like your family—they may call you during the work day when you are right in the middle of something and aren’t able to pick up the phone, but if they have a quick question you can answer it right away. It’s an expedited way of communicating and multitasking, which everyone apparently appreciates based on how rampant it is in our industry. When it comes to communicating with policyholders, we’re open to what their preferred method of communication is. All of our clients get exactly what they want.”
On what makes a house a home:
“I’ve found that memories in a home-like atmosphere can be made anywhere. The location does not matter; it’s about time spent together with the people you care about. Little touches like providing essentials in a welcome basket make it more comfortable, of course, which is why we provide them. But when it comes down to it, it’s the home-like atmosphere that each family builds—and rebuilds—that makes a house a home.”