Assistance coordinators and their essential role in supporting policyholders

What does an assistance coordinator's job involve?

Not only do they organise the assistance that the policyholder needs, they also know how to find the words to reassure them.

Supporting policyholders

Fidélia Assistance is the company that provides the assistance cover included in insurance policies sold by the Covéa Group’s brands, MAAF, MMA and GMF. It has 1,200 permanent staff, and takes on an additional 250 seasonal staff between June and September. Together, they deal with over 1.4 million cases each year. Fidélia Assistance is located in France, with staff based on three sites in Saint-Cloud, Tours and Nantes.

An assistance coordinator’s job is to help policyholders deal with a very wide range of difficulties: car breakdowns, door lock problems, water damage, burglaries, etc. Working by phone, they support policyholders and offer solutions, as Ibrahima Camara explains.

Ibrahima joined the Fidélia Assistance vehicle technical department in 2016. His role is to assist policyholders who have a problem with their vehicle, using the services covered by their contract to organise the help they need. “Helping policyholders is what we do every day. This job is all about the people. You have to be able to keep calm so that you can find the best solution, and you need excellent listening skills and empathy too, because you’re dealing with people in stressful situations. It’s a good fit for my values.”


How assistance requests are handled

The assistance coordinator’s role is to understand the policyholder’s problem, look at it against the cover they hold and find the most appropriate solutions. There are four main steps involved in dealing with a request for assistance.

  1. Open the assistance case

    The policyholder explains their situation and the assistance coordinator tells them which services they are entitled to under their contract.

  2. Find the service provider(s)

    Depending on the situation, the assistance coordinator will decide what help is required and contact the service provider(s) best placed to assist (repair technician, locksmith, plumber, etc.).

  3. Organise and coordinate assistance services

    Policyholders may need a number of different services, from roadside repair, towing or repatriation to plumbing, childcare or help with housework. For example, if a policyholder has been burgled, a temporary repair will be organised urgently and the assistance coordinator will pass the policyholder through to the claims department to report their claim. They can also put the policyholder in touch with a counsellor if they feel they need one.

  4. Follow up the case

    To ensure the case is managed efficiently, the assistance coordinator will update the file with the actions they have taken. At each stage, they keep the policyholder informed of what has been done and the next steps.

Every claim is different, so there’s no “one size fits all” approach. With every call they make, the assistance coordinator adapts to their contact, the context, the geographical location, etc. That’s why people skills are so important. Nassima Djaroun works in the Local department, which supports policyholders who have an issue with their home or a health problem. Here’s how she sees her role: “the support we provide is based on five principles: active listening, empathy, responsiveness, clear explanations and confidentiality. Sometimes people imagine we follow a script, but that’s not the case. We’re not told what to say at all; it’s up to us to find the right words to support the policyholder. In some situations, like a burglary, people can really suffer. There can be a psychological impact resulting in fear, anxiety and feelings of insecurity. For some people, it can become a major problem.”

Various types of assistance

There are a number of different sides to this role and assistance coordinators can specialise in one of three main areas: vehicle assistance, medical assistance and home assistance.

Vehicle assistance

Vehicle-related claims (thefts, damage, breakdowns, natural catastrophes and more) account for the majority of assistance requests. Breakdowns and accidents are the most frequent. “As soon as we receive the call, we use geolocation to identify the precise location of the problem so that we can find the most suitable solutions and send a service provider promptly,” Ibrahima explains.

The solutions offered are adapted to the individual circumstances. “We’ll send a roadside repair service if it’s appropriate to the situation. If that’s not an option, the policyholder can choose to have their vehicle towed to the garage of their choice. Depending on their contract, they may be entitled to a courtesy vehicle. A recovery service might be put in place to bring the driver and passengers home quickly, using a taxi, a train or a hire vehicle. Over very long distances, this can include temporary accommodation and even a flight home.”

Assistance coordinators have to be both efficient and empathetic when handling a case, because the policyholder they are dealing with may be experiencing a traumatic situation. As Ibrahima explains, “over and above a solution to their problem, certain people need reassurance, sometimes on topics unconnected with the assistance service. That’s when it’s important to listen to them. Even if their questions are not related to the case in hand, we advise them as best we can so that they feel supported from A to Z. For example, we can liaise between the customer and other departments, in particular while those departments are closed. We also help policyholders who want to make a preliminary insurance claim, so that it can be processed as early as possible and accepted by the relevant department the following day.”

The assistance coordinator also makes sure they let the policyholder know about all the different things being done to help them. It’s important that they have a complete overview of everything that is put in place by the assistance service. “Giving the customer full visibility is key, because it helps to reassure them and make them feel supported.”


Medical assistance

“Health-related claims have a significant emotional dimension and are distressing for policyholders,” says Isabelle Bouetard, an assistance coordinator in Fidélia’s Mixed department, which is responsible for medical assistance. Each day, she is in contact with policyholders who have had an accident or fallen ill while away from home, either in France or abroad. Her job involves organising medical repatriations to bring policyholders, and sometimes their vehicles, home as seamlessly as possible. “When a policyholder falls ill or suffers an accident away from home, it’s a worrying time for them and their family. When they’re outside France, it’s even worse because sometimes they don’t know the country well and they’re worried about what the medical care will be like. When they first call they’re very stressed, and we have to make sure we ascertain as much information as possible so that we can work efficiently. We mustn’t get caught up in the emotion. We have to collect all the information we need, ensure that their contract enables us to offer them assistance and give them as many details as possible. So we have to condense all that, and continue to offer a listening ear.”

Organising a repatriation is a major logistical operation. The Mixed department works with partners in several countries who help pass information back and forth, in particular to hospitals. The assistance coordinators in this department speak several languages, meaning that they can sometimes contact the hospitals directly to have policyholders treated more quickly. As well as the administration, they also deal with the logistical aspect of repatriations: “we organise repatriations by air, making sure that the process is as comfortable as possible for the policyholder. Depending on the person’s condition, that might mean sending a medical team to assist them during the journey, or transporting them on a stretcher. In extreme cases, we can even send a private jet. That’s unusual though, and only applies to short-haul destinations,” Isabelle explains.

When health-related claims arise in the course of everyday life, they’re dealt with by the Local department. These claims can be a result of either accident or illness. The role of the assistance coordinators in this department is to offer policyholders services that make their lives easier. “We’re there to support policyholders and help them cope in distressing and unplanned situations. In particular, we can offer several areas of cover that people may not even realise they’re entitled to as part of their contract. For example, we can send a home help to assist with housework, shopping and cooking. We can offer at-home care for children or pets, or even a gardening service, depending on what is covered by the contract,” Nassima explains.


Home assistance

Here again, there are numerous different problems that can arise, such as water damage, fire, broken glass or burglary. In these situations, the assistance coordinator will contact a plumber, locksmith, electrician, roofer, glazier or other service provider. 

In practice, the most frequently reported claims are for water damage or policyholders locked out of their homes. These are not the only issues the assistance coordinators encounter, however: “there are also fires, and broken glass. In November, we received a large number of calls related to storm Ciarán because policyholders had suffered significant roof damage. When you’re dealing with a break-in for example, the services required to secure the home can vary from one case to the next. We might send a locksmith or a carpenter, or even a security guard to keep both people and property safe,” says Nassima. 

Certain more serious claims can be traumatic for policyholders. In these situations, the assistance coordinator will need to adapt the service they offer. “We have to find the right words to support people and give them the help they need, for example after a burglary, because the psychological impact can be significant. People feel their personal space has been violated.” Assistance coordinators work with a team of psychologists who offer counselling to policyholders whose claims have caused them particular distress.


FIDELIA Assistance is recruiting 360 seasonal assistance coordinators

FIDELIA Assistance, the assistance company of the Covéa Group (MAAF, MMA and GMF) is recruiting 360 assistance coordinators to supplement its permanent teams over the summer, mainly on the Tours and Nantes sites. Find out more

Learn more

A meaningful role focused on helping others 

An assistance coordinator’s role is meaningful and people-focused. 

A role where you feel useful

This is an ideal role for people who enjoy helping others, have strong customer service skills and hate routine. “I know why I get up in the morning: to help our policyholders,” says Nassima. “I’m proud to be able to support them in their time of need.”
Ibrahima finds his job rewarding: “I feel like I get to pull on my superhero cape, just for a few minutes. And in fact, the policyholders are often very grateful.”

A role that is meaningful

Assistance coordinators play a crucial role in the support that the Covéa Group’s brands provide for their policyholders. Each day, they see the concrete results of their work as they use their skills to assist the policyholders. Through their role, they often forge links with the people who call on their services.

Isabelle says, “in the medical assistance department, policyholders contact us from the four corners of the globe. No two days are the same, because each case is unique and there’s a story behind every repatriation. Given that you follow all your cases through to their conclusion, you build a relationship with the policyholders.”