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Claims: A client-centric culture

26 July 2019 HIC Underwriting Managers

There can be no argument in the short-term insurance industry that superior service is a key differentiator and one which gives companies a competitive edge. Claims service experienced by the policyholder in the majority of instances becomes the first true measure of the insurer’s value proposition and whether or not they made the correct decision to place their business with that insurer. When the outcome of the measure of the claims service including turnaround times and communication is negative and not up to reasonable expectation, then many policyholders simply take the decision to move their business elsewhere.

It is no secret that an Insurer’s acquisition costs for new business far exceeds the cost of developing and maintaining a comprehensive retention strategy. This retention strategy must aim to keep clients happy with quick and efficient service levels including quick claims service turnaround times. A customer churn metrics is a good indicator of how an insurer is doing in this regard. Monthly reviews followed by decisive informed actions for improvement should ensure that churn is managed down to minimal levels.

The three main focus areas are employees, systems and processes. The problem areas or impediments within these focus areas must be identified. Ignoring these can be detrimental to any insurer. Employees should certainly be the priority focus area since they are responsible for managing the other two focus areas.

Insurers must build and develop a client-centric culture with their Brokers and with their clients to achieve positive experience and relationship building outcomes. Employees must also be equipped with the necessary experience, competence, knowledge and skills. The recruitment and ongoing training of staff with the right attitude and work ethic is essential for your claims shop window. The skills set and level of competence must be matched with the level of complexity of the claim. You should not throw a trainee in the deep end with a complex claim.

Their communication skills must be good and must include:
• keeping the Broker and Client informed of the status of the claim
• demonstrating a human element with compassion, empathy, respect etc.
• being well versed in the insurance products
• managing expectations from the get-go
• making every interaction a positive and reassuring experience

In this day and age of high-volume claims management, we have become highly dependent on computer systems and automated technology to the extent that there is a diminished ability to apply our own minds and deal with matters offline. How many times have we heard that the excuse “the system is offline now, so we are unable to assist you right now”? It is probably one of the most irritating responses one can hear as client, when you are trying to get your life back to normal after suffering loss or damage. Downtime must be adequately managed to a minimum. High volumes of claims affect not only the claims team’s capacity, but also the system’s capacity. Pro-active capacity assessments must be done and additional capacity must be readily available so that the systems work with speed and efficiency.

Claims handling processes and standard operating procedures must be developed and benchmarked to best practice levels to enable seamless, smooth, fast and efficient handling of each claim. It becomes a negative experience for the broker and client when they are contacted several times for different information and/or documentation. At claims intimation stage the claims handler must know what they need and they must know what to do with what they have received. Over and above this, claims supervisors and claims management should be able to deal with unusual and /or technical cases not covered by these processes. This will avoid bottlenecks and free up capacity to deal with the run of the mill cases.

Each of these focus areas must be managed for the best results.

 

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