Industry Leader Interview – John Ridd, CEO, eviid

What’s the biggest challenge (Coronavirus related) facing your sector of the industry? 

The insurance sector is experiencing an unprecedented drop-off in claims, especially in high-volume categories such as motor and property.

But the need for social distancing means that loss adjusters and claim handlers are now facing a double-whammy; a reduction in instructions combined with not being able to properly assess those priority cases which are being currently progressed or are urgent.

Another challenge is the need to begin accurately capturing now those images, video and documentation which will form the basis of non-urgent claims that will inevitably come down the track post-shutdown   

A  growing claims backlog could be further exacerbated by the government’s ‘stay at home’ instructions. This will put great pressure on the infrastructure of many households, and we anticipate that the volume of domestic claims will start to rise as a result.

We also believe that the civic upheaval caused by the pandemic will trigger a surge in fraudulent activity.

Having verified media captured through a system like eviid will help to combat that, but it will still put a great strain on already depleted resources to effectively manage claims.

How are you and your business dealing with this? 

As the supplier of evidential-quality, remote video solutions specifically for the insurance industry, these and other covid-19 related issues have had a massive impact on our day-to-day business.

In response, we have massively ramped-up our technical support and training provision to ensure our smartphone and desktop technology can be deployed as rapidly as possible.

For example, in last two weeks alone we have trained over 500 claims handlers, loss adjusters and other insurance personnel, many of who were new to our platform.

We have also scaled-up our customer service teams to help process the uplift in enquiries. We’re also streamlining our set-up processes to help get clients fully-operational as fast as we can. 

Further, all our staff – both technical and administrative – are now homeworking, thus minimising social contact. This  will reduce the risk of infection among our people, which in turn will help us meet the quick turnaround targets we have set ourselves. 

The fact we are incredibly busy also demonstrates that even if physical contact or on-site visits are not currently possible, the claims industry is looking for practical solutions to help overcome these challenges.

What is the most important piece of leadership advice you can offer?

Ensure you maintain regular communications with all of your staff, clients and industry partners and keep the message clear and simple.

Adopt an flexible and transparent approach to your business, and demonstrate that you are an agile leader responding positively to a difficult situation. But don’t act rashly, and remember that whatever you do needs to always be ethical, responsible and compliant.   

Finally, find ways to highlight your leadership qualities beyond what you say on video conference calls or in a group email. Insightful blog posts, white papers, commenting on LinkedIn industry feeds  and other thought leadership opportunities can help build confidence in you as an individual both within your business and across the wider sector. 

What are your top tips for home-working productivity?

Try and create a daily routine which has some symbolic elements of a normal working day in order to create some ‘psychological boundaries’ between your work and home life. Everyone is different, so find what works for you, and stick with it.

If you’re using video calling for virtual staff or client meetings make sure you thoroughly review the T&Cs and consider the cyber security implications before you sign-up – or retrospectively – especially if it’s a free service.

Further, while on the call with your team, encourage chat about non-work issues; we are by nature very social creatures and we all benefit from personal as well as professional interaction.

Be considerate to others in your household. Even if they aren’t required to work from home like you are, they are also having to deal with having their world turned upside down. By reducing the need for domestic fire-fighting you’ll be able to stay more focused on your work in the long run.

Finally, remember how lucky you are – in terms of comfort and safety – compared with a vast majority of the world’s population at this exceptionally challenging time. Use that thought to stay positive, motivated and productive.

What would be your overriding message to the industry right now?

Like many other behind-the-scenes commercial services, the claims sector’s role in helping businesses ‘keep the lights on’ during this incredibly difficult period will continue to  be largely under the radar. We have to accept that, and just get on with the job.

We also have to steel ourselves; not only for the immediate impact which covid-19 will have on our own companies, our staff, our industry partners and our customers but also on the longer-term implications for the entire insurance industry – financially, operationally and culturally.

Behaviours will change permanently, and elements of the much touted ‘new normal’ will become just that: normal. Therefore flexibility, agility and a responsive approach to change will be as crucial in 12 months’ time as it is right now.

For example, in our specific sector, the growing use of video-calling, digital self-reporting, remote interviewing and virtual evidence gathering will inevitably mean an increase in competition for eviid as well as new opportunities for us. 

Of course, none of us has a crystal ball about what the future may hold, but we have to accept when we come through this later this year society, and the global economy, will be very different.

Business may never get back to being ‘as usual’, so with that in mind take this opportunity to undertake some post-pandemic horizon scanning.

Think about what technology, staffing arrangements, corporate culture and skillset you think you will need to get through the recovery period, and what – with hindsight – you wish you’d had in place before the outbreak.

In addition, consider how you can future-proof your business to help protect against such an episode should recur in the short, medium and or long-term.

The fact we are incredibly busy also demonstrates that even if physical contact or on-site visits are not currently possible, the claims industry is looking for practical solutions to help overcome these challenges.

John Ridd - CEO of eviid


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