9th January 2017
Our Property MD Mark Grocott talk to Post Magazine about innovation in the claims process: when people talk about innovation in the claims process I immediately think about our clients and their customers – and also about our staff, because innovation undoubtedly means different things to different people.
Claims specialists are generally viewed as rather backward when it comes to technology, partly because many of them come from traditional backgrounds and partly as a result of the claims culture in this country which has been resolute about checks and balances – and rightly so. But there’s no doubt in my mind that we need to use technology to respond much more efficiently to the needs of our clients and their customers who deserve our help.
An SME with a business interruption claim is primarily concerned with getting the business back on track as quickly as possible. The homeowner, whose family is driven out by flood, doesn’t want to spend months in temporary accommodation. And layers of compliance and paperwork inevitably result in our customers viewing the insurance market as lacking in urgency and empathy. Undoubtedly technology alongside improved customer service skills could play a big part to play in dispelling this frustration.
Our own investment across four years into Cq, a claims platform that integrates all our claims data has not only given us massive insight into the customer experience but also the ability to feed seamlessly into our insurers own systems. It allows us to manage claims, make decisions much more quickly, identify fraud patterns and use this information to develop claim strategies with insurers.
Critically Cq also meshes with the evolving smart technology that is set to change the face of claims. It enables us to receive data just once, without the need to re-enter it, and analyse it on the spot.
The motor claims market has been in the vanguard of video technology empowering claims handlers to make virtually real-time decisions. Similar applications have been developed for property damage. But online video evidence provided by policyholders is not a silver bullet solution in itself. It works only if backed up by expert handlers who can interpret the evidence and respond to each individual case. It must also work alongside the broad toolkit of options available to claims handlers and insurers, supporting customer choice.
There are many other examples of technology helping us to cut claims times. We now regularly use drones to access property damage in areas of difficult access and this can easily save a week in the overall process.
Similarly smart phone technology helps us to agree instant variations on works with the chosen contractor through video data capture. Approval, given on the spot by our experts, avoids any interruption in the repair process.
The future for the implementation of technology in the claims arena undoubtedly lies with connectivity. The smart phone will enable our customer to book a flight online and, if there is a delay, it will be relayed to our screens and the appropriate sum paid directly into the client’s bank account without the need for a physical claim. The current approach to claims validation does not stand a chance unless we evolve.
The connected home where all risks are diagnosed or the smart car that can pinpoint the events leading up to an accident are no longer the imaginings of science fiction. And they are bound to impact strongly on claims culture sooner than we think. But there are technical and legal hoops to go through before this happens. At Davies we will always guard strongly against throwing the baby out with the bath water – layering new technologies alongside our best people.
There are already aps written by insurers which effectively rip up the claims process in the case of relatively simple losses. And, of course, there is much talk of sophisticated new entrants, including Google, showing a big interest in this market. But in my view, whilst investing in a modern and transparent claims process is key to improving client retention, the customer experience requires more than that. Understanding of the needs of our customers and insurers and combating the increased threat of fraud will mean that claims must remain a skilled people industry.
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