ILC ARTICLE

What are the drivers dictating shape?


A panel debate at ILC’s Home and Property Conference turned the spotlight on the factors influencing the shape of claims and asked: ‘What is coming next?’

Taking part in the discussion were Will Sherwin, Senior CAT Head – Household and Property, Direct Line Group; Mark McMullen, Managing Director, Rainbow Restoration; Joe Grafton, Chief Commercial Officer, The Perfect Group; and Andrew Henner, Technical Claims Manager (UKGI – Property), Ecclesiastical Insurance, who between them offered a range of different perspectives.

The economy, regulation, digitalisation, AI, and Consumer Duty were all identified as significant influencers on claims now and in the future, while Mark also pointed to trust and the number of touch points in a claim as areas where real strides could be made going forward.

He said, “We currently have more than 70 touch points in a claim. I see them as junctions in a road and at each one the person can potentially take a wrong turn. We need to reduce that number to speed up claims and reduce the risk of something going wrong.

“The second fundamental thing shaping claims is a debilitating lack of trust. In retail, hospitality and aviation, the customer is pretty clear what they’re going to get from a particular brand and the experts in those sectors deliver that with ruthless consistency.

“But the insurance sector is not in that shape. Customers can’t differentiate between brands and that means we are trying to be all things to all people – and that brings huge cost pressures.”

Consumer Duty

Introduced to develop greater trust through consistently good outcomes and fair value, Consumer Duty is certainly well-intentioned.

However, not everyone is convinced it is fully aligned with what the customer really wants.

Will said, “The intention behind it is positive and it’s important to drive the industry forward in a consumer-centric way.

“In our industry there are a lot of links in the chain and the customer experience is only as good as the weakest link. So it feels like there are more checks and balances now, but over time I would expect to see more efficiencies in the claims process.”

However, Andrew said that Consumer Duty has been developed to apply equally to the vast range of organisations with the insurance industry.

He said, “It’s not easy to regulate a diverse industry. With Consumer Duty, we’ve moved from prescriptive regulation to an open-ended regulation focussed on outcomes. I think it encourages us to challenge our core processes more, but it comes back to the core function of understanding the customer’s priorities and if you do that then you’re half-way there.”

It is true though, that Consumer Duty means different things to different people.

Joe explained that at The Perfect Group the policy is to start with the customer and then work backwards, based on their requirements. But that approach can strain budgets further up the supply chain.

He said, “There is a fine line between meeting customer needs and going above and beyond and being questioned by the insurer for doing too much.”

Greater communication throughout the supply chain is critical to establishing service levels at the outset, but in some cases the progress made during Covid has stalled, if not gone backwards.

Joe continued, “We’re a removals and storage company so are often the last people in the property before the work starts, and the one thing we come across regularly is a lack of communication across the supply chain. If everyone before us takes two days to respond to an email it can be add two more weeks before we get there. Technology can facilitate better communication and we made a lot of progress during Covid, but we seem to have fallen back into old habits.”

Environment

Quicker and better decision-making is not just good for the insurer, supplier and customer – but it can play a huge role in reducing the carbon footprint of a claim.

Andrew said that Ecclesiastical Insurance deals with a number of complex claims, but using technology to make triage more accurate was vital to a smooth claims journey.

He said, “Complex claims can lead to a lot of inefficiencies, especially if people are too fixated on established processes and KPIs. But it adds expense in the long run, so you need to get the triage right first of all, and then deploy the necessary resources. That will also deliver high levels of customer satisfaction, because they all want the same thing in the end – speed, but speed that is proportionate to the claim.”

With investors also increasingly putting a premium on sustainable practices, insurers have not been slow to drive the green agenda. The challenge though is that they are measured not only by their own environmental credentials but by those of their suppliers.

Will said that in some cases the infrastructure and products are just not there yet to support a zero-emission supply chain, but that doesn’t stop insurers examining their own processes and doing what they can to remove as much waste from the system as possible.

Mark concluded, “We talk about what we can’t do way too much. We talk about cost restrictions and about infrastructure challenges. These are real issues, but we should be having conversations about what is possible, what can we do.” 

ILC’s Home & Property Conference was headline sponsored by Claims Consortium Group; Gold Sponsors Rainbow Restorations, Catalyst, Clearspeed, LexisNexis Risk Solutions, Perfect Group, Polygon, Pulse, and Wiser Academy; and Silver Sponsors Crawford, eVolution Claims Management, Home Repair Network, ICEYE, Prime Disaster Response, Safeline Environmental and SD Claims.

ILC’s Home & Property division is backed by Corporate Partners: Allied Universal, Clearway, Corelogic, DAC Beachcroft, Geobear, ICAB, Innovation Group, Sedgwick, and Verisk.

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