Insurance Innovation: putting customers first in the claims process

Technology is an important enabler for innovative claims but understanding how, when, why and where the customer wants human interaction and having the skills to deliver it is often the critical last mile.

Insurance Nexus, part of Reuters Events asked three industry leaders to reveal their unique take on insurance claims innovation. To download the free whitepaper, with contributions from Economical, Wawanesa and Aviva, click here:

What does innovation mean for you? Is it about incremental improvements in current technologies or process? Perhaps innovation should be more radical, the only true innovation being the wholesale disruption of a service or sector?

Certainly, there’s no lack of examples of either of these in the insurance sector. On the one hand, improvements in data management, technology integrations and a mobile-first approach has made all sorts of activities from generating quotes to claims reimbursement faster and more hassle-free than ever.

On the other, new services are springing up to tackle previously unmet customer needs, services that look unlike any model the insurance sector has seen before. Services such as Lemonade, which boasts the industry’s fastest end-to-end claims process. Settlements in a matter of not weeks or days, not even hours, but seconds. Or Metromile, which allows microinsurance at scale, allowing customers to insure only their small part in the growing sharing economy.

But experts have more recently suggested that the true innovation isn’t in the apps or platforms themselves, but in the way carriers choose to deploy them. And choice is the operative word.

“The next innovation in claims is talking to your customer. Because, in claims, we are dealing with people in tragic situations. It’s a time of loss, of flood, car accidents,” says Erin Fischer, Vice President, Chief Claims Officer, Wawanesa Insurance. She adds that how customers want to be talked to varies. Some will want efficiency, getting a bothersome task out of the way. Others will need the balance between efficiency and empathy to tip much more heavily in favor of empathy: “We’ve got to make sure we’ve got the right human connections at the right part of the process. What customers are looking for us to deliver is empathy.”

Understanding how that balance works within the claims organization is critical to optimizing service delivery. “The number one question I get asked is do you need to hire claims people who are technical experts? When a customer is in a car accident, the most important thing I want someone to be able to do is connect with that customer in that moment,” Fischer suggests. “If I hire someone with the best customer experience skills, people who can give our customer the confidence and trust that we have their back, I can architect something around them that is magical. You can leverage technology for that. You can’t teach someone how to connect with people.”

Technology shouldn’t be helping carriers dictate new ways of claims management. Instead, it should be opening up a whole landscape of choice around where, when and how customers want to manage their claim, in some cases subverting even the most current thinking around what it means to be a modern, tech-driven insurer.

To download the free whitepaper, with contributions from Economical, Wawanesa and Aviva, click here:

Graham Proud

Senior Researcher & Industry Commentator, Reuters Events