Customer Damage Claims

Results when accounting for service equity

EJSE supports SPU teams to better understand and work on service equity. Besides training, we also help staff use SPU’s Equity Planning Toolkit for existing programs and services. Customer damage claims is one example of how using the toolkit can improve our work.

Damage or loss of personal property may sometimes occur because of a flood or a sewer main back caused by SPU system failures. SPU mapped customer damage claims over a 4-year period and interviewed staff who support the damage claims process. Customer Claims then recognized there may be under-reporting (damage claim filing) from more racially-diverse and lower income communities. In 2015 a team led by EJSE conducted a service equity review. Using SPU’s Equity Planning Toolkit, we discovered:

  • The process to file a claim wasn’t widely advertised or promoted
  • Staff didn’t have standard messages to describe the claims process
  • The URL for information about claims was long and not advertised on the SPU website
  • The damage claim form was too technical and was only available in PDF format
  • Staff noticed that customers with limited incomes who speak English as a second language struggled more to complete the process


Staff agreed to take steps to improve awareness and access to the damage claims process.

  • Develop standard messages for the damage claims process
  • Add a link to damage claims information on the SPU website
  • Shorten the damage claims URL and include a direct link to the claims form
  • Add claims information to ongoing SPU outreach
  • Create a refresher training program for field staff
    • This training would empower them to hand claims forms to potential claimants

    In addition, SPU has committed to:

    • Routinely map incident location and claimants’ home addresses
    • Add translation services to the damage claims section of the Urban Surface Water Flood Response Plan