ILC ARTICLE

Data and capacity key to repair process


Insurers face two key challenges when it comes to managing subsidence surges and ensuring that claims progress efficiently to completion: access to the right data to enable forward planning, and securing the capacity to carry out necessary repairs.

That was the verdict of a panel debate at ILC’s Subsidence Surge specialist event, which took place at the MTC in Coventry recently, headline sponsored by Optera Structural Solutions.

Taking part in the discussion, which considered how the combination of data, technology and capacity is critical to managing surges, were: Matt Jackson, Head of Supply Chain – Claims, AXA; Lee Nicholls, Senior Sales Enabling Consultant, CoreLogIc; Steve Gelder, CEO, Gelder Group; Dave Clare, Divisional Director – Surveying Services, QuestGates; and Jeremy Aitchison, Subsidence Oversight Consultant, Aviva.

“Repair is the moment of truth,” said Matt. “We understand what work will be required and are able to estimate the cost of the claim, factoring in inflation, about 80-90% of the time. But the challenge comes with the unknowns and to manage that we need to encourage more open dialogue around that with everyone involved.”

Subsidence claims pose a unique challenge, and the industry does not always meet it.

According to Steve, subsidence claims have become notorious for long delays and mismanagement, partly due to a lack of relevant information reaching the right people at the right time, and partly due to the number of stakeholders now involved in the process.

As such, he believes they have become the most problematic for policyholders and can in some cases leave them in limbo for years.

He said, “A subsidence claim is the worst claim in the world to have for homeowners. They are virtually paralysed for two years. They can’t sell the house, they can’t change insurers, they can’t do anything. Previously an engineer would visit the site and decide what needed to be done and then that is pretty much what would happen. But the problem now is there are so many people involved and everything takes so much longer.”

Data

However, it doesn’t have to be like that. The amount of data available now should give everyone early visibility of the claim that can identify and resolve conflicts quickly, and enable a level of planning that ensures repairs can begin in a timely fashion.

Lee said, “There is lots of data from both ends. The key is interpreting the data and understanding what is relevant to moving that claim forward. Are we capturing the right things from the start, and then continuing to capture key metrics as we progress through the journey, and is that data available and visible to those who need to see it?

“Reaching the repair phase is the tipping point; you know things are going to cascade over to the next level but you’re not sure how many and what. But if you have more data you can deliver more forward-planning so both the insurer and the supply chain can find the right resources ahead of time. It’s all about visibility and transparency and being able to share that across.”

Capacity

This ability to plan ahead is critical because of an acute lack of skills in the supply chain. There are a number of factors that have contributed to this: capping indemnity led to many field engineers leaving the sector, a number of benign years in terms of subsidence claims volumes saw insurers downsize, while the pandemic has also led to many people leaving the workforce.

Another issue that can’t be downplayed, according to Dave, is Brexit. He suggested the decision to leave the EU cut the number of tradespeople in the UK by half almost immediately.

“There simply aren’t enough people left to handle all the work,” he claimed.

On top of that, many of those that are still available are reluctant to work with insurers for reasons such as payment issues and flow of work.

Steve said, “Someone said we have the supply chain we deserve. Contractors just want to work with people who value them and treat them fairly. We are selective about who we work for because we have to remain efficient – we don’t want to be dealing with claims that go on forever with specifications changing all the time.”

But this is where data can play an invaluable part.

Dave continued, “I think we all have the same recruitment issues, so the only solution is reducing the amount of work we send down the supply chain at any one time. Claims often come in waves so you know 12-18 months beforehand roughly how many repairs there will be. But if we use data to filter out the simple claims and bring them to the repair phase earlier we can prevent repair volumes all hitting at the same time.”

ILC would like to thank Headline Sponsor Optera Structural Solutions, Gold Sponsors 360Globalnet, CoreLogic, Geobear, Innovation Group, Sedgwick and Stress Group, and Silver Sponsors Crawford, Davies, Mainmark, and Pulse.

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