Feature interview: Rhys Williams, Chief Growth Officer, Davies

With such volatility in the economy and trading challenges unlike anything that has been seen before, businesses may be tempted to focus exclusively on the short-term.

But standing still means going backwards and it could be argued that now more than ever it is critical to build resilience and develop viable future strategies.

Here, we speak to Rhys Williams, Chief Growth Officer, Davies, to find out what business development means to him and how Davies are evolving to meet changing demands.

Can you give us an insight into the services Davies offers and the support it provides to those within the insurance sector?

Davies provides a complete claims management solution for all major classes of general insurance in the UK and Ireland. We offer end-to-end and standalone solutions across all motor, property, niche and casualty lines with many insurers and MGA partners.

Our MGA partners tend to utilise our cradle to grave services with many of our Tier 1 insurer partners using more modular services such as standalone FNOL, mobility hire, third party capture, repair and restoration, engineering, forensic investigation, and complex loss adjusting to support their in-house model.

Additionally, we offer further bespoke handling solutions for complex classes in both the UK and Irish casualty and ancillary markets.

In recent years, we have also excelled by collaborating with our partners to produce what has become known as ‘straight-through’ claims processing for a range of motor, and property solutions, in addition to ancillary classes such as pet, personal accident, home emergency, contents, and travel.

Where do you see the best opportunities for business development in the next 3-5 years?

When collaborating with any existing or prospective partner, our main service objective tends to boil down to the delivery of three key targets – cost, customer journey, and claims spend – and then working out which is most important to them.

The market has always focused on cost and, more broadly, cost reduction. So having a solution that truly assists a principal in continually reducing these cost bases, whether by operating smarter or utilising technology, is a critical aspect in maintaining a viable market solution.

The market will also continue to place a strong emphasis on customer interaction and, more significantly, a prospective partner’s ability to genuinely comprehend and then improve on a customer journey.

I’m frequently in conversations in which claims is mentioned as the ‘shop window’ for an insurance policy, and I think that’s incredibly accurate.

It’s essential for providers to focus on reducing lifecycles, improving efficiency, and ultimately adapting to a changing buyer market, as well as harnessing capabilities to listen, learn, and improve.

This will aid in producing a tangible return on investments, such as increased rates of renewal and improving net promotor scores.

Finally, we focus on the spend of claims themselves. Providers who can truly leverage an ever-expanding tech landscape, adopt new and innovative handling solutions, and capitalise on an ever-shrinking supply chain to offer year-on-year reductions in heads of claim, with a high propensity for leakage, such as credit hire, personal injury and property repair, can remain at the forefront of offering solutions that are truly best in class.

How is new technology and innovation creating further development opportunities?

A few years ago, I had a meeting with an insurtech and one of their team members said, ‘Our claims procedure should be as straightforward as ordering something from Just Eat.’ I also recall thinking how much that oversimplified things. But, why not? It’s not only doable, but it’s now a reality.

Where it’s viable, technology is fundamentally additive. It makes things easier and, in the end, better. The idea of using an API pull to draw drawn indemnity information and reduce FNOL from 10 to three minutes is now workable, as is embedding automated data washing capability to fast-track claims history reviews, and counter fraud investigation to get valid and fair cases into a ‘happy path’ for fast-track settlement, while retaining those requiring a more thorough investigation from a seasoned handler.

Going a step further, if we’ve sent a contractor to fix any damage to your policyholder’s property, your customers can not only track the claim status via an app but also receive real-time GPS updates of the whereabouts of our engineer.

Similarly, we can utilise AI to anticipate costs, settlement times, and tactics across a variety of disciplines.

So, innovative technology that can speed up processes, eliminate the need for on-site action, improve customers satisfaction, and minimise costs for principals must be a top priority for everyone in the claims industry.

How are regulatory changes impacting future developments?

It is a significant factor but regular dialogue with our partners allows us to adapt to change. Whilst we are a fast-growing business, we remain flexible in the solutions we offer to our clients, as we know the insurance industry is fast-paced and must respond to economic and regulatory change.

How does Davies use data to shape products and services?

Data is essential – be that claims settlement information, customer satisfaction outcomes or market statistics. Having a global view of the product you offer, the market it fits within and those it serves is essential to continuing to provide something which is not only good, but genuinely adds value.

I mentioned AI earlier, which allows us to maximise the use of the high amount of data we receive to drive performance. A reality of outsourcing to a BPO is that a Davies invariably deals with and subsequently records a mass of things, be that claims patterns, settlements by class of cover or closure outcomes. All of this can be harnessed to scrutinise process, a customer, or the competition and how we engage with both to improve process, costs, and retentions for our principals.

It is also essential to maintain an eye on market trends as the development of the UK insurance market determines how our business operates and, more critically, how we leverage our reach to achieve creative change. Knowing what the market needs allows us to proactively support and approach our customers with solutions that provide value and, more importantly, are aligned with their immediate and long-term business objectives.

Businesses are only as good as their people – how does Davies ensure its colleagues are best-placed to support internal growth while also offering the best service to clients?

When I joined nearly seven years ago I remember being taken with its people. The leadership team was exceptional, the management was driven, and our handlers were focused on the crucial role they played in delivering on our commitment to put the client first in all we do.

That hasn’t changed. The same leadership team is still driving the business forward, and many managers have carved their own paths into more senior leadership roles, while an ever-expanding raft of internal promotions ensures a delicate balance of seasoned leadership and ground-level knowledge is present in every meeting.

Something else that’s not changed is the simple truth of being a successful BPO: if our clients win, so do we. Partners writing profitable products with high retentions are paramount. So, retaining our people with the mindset of putting the client first has been and will continue to be a big factor in our success.

How do you manage continued business development during such uncertain political and economic times?

Listening. It’s as simple as knowing where the market is heading and, critically, meeting with our principals as frequently and for as long as we can to gather their perspectives on market trends, new possibilities and threats, and their fundamental objectives.

When done correctly, a principal’s aims should be a crucial part in any business’s desires to grow, whether organically, through technological or procedural investment, or by acquiring new and innovative capabilities. If it’s important to them, it’s important to us as we can then horizon scan and shape our solution to ensure that it corresponds with their objectives, complements their ambitions, and ultimately delivers value in what is the ‘shop window’ of their product – claims.


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