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Special report: The future of claims in commercial broking: Expert view

The future of claims in commercial broking

Technology and staff investment are key to delivering great commercial claims service. Insurers must show the way in embracing future claims innovation, as well as their in-house capabilities and expertise, writes Victoria Keating, claims relationship management lead at Aviva

Victoria Keating Aviva
Victoria Keating, claims relationship management lead at Aviva

The insurance market is in a state of dynamic flux, with ever increasing challenges from Brexit, regulation and changing customer demands. Added to this, increased capacity, competition and need for efficiencies the importance of brokers and insurers working together in partnership has never been more critical.

Given they are extremely busy facing into these tough market conditions, brokers need to lean on their insurers
to provide tailored, expert claims advice. Nearly 30% of the brokers polled as part of the Broker Commercial Claims Survey have no dedicated claims resource within their brokerage see figure 1). This is a lot higher than I might have expected, maybe the tide has changed. Brokers are trusting insurers to get the right outcome for their clients which reduces the need for their involvement, saving time and resource that can be focused on providing the best insurance solutions to meet their clients’ needs.

Commercial SME clients are also busy focusing on their business ambitions and day-to-day running of their business looking to their broker alongside insurers for support. Good communication is key to making this work and especially for the more complex types of claims. In the mid-market space, we often find these types of businesses suffer as they aren’t big enough to have their own dedicated claims support to handle the increasing complexities of their business as they grow.

Having a team of claims relationship managers is thus vital. To not only listen to the client, understanding their individual needs, which can be unique and complex; but to then work alongside a broker to ensure they have the right claims infrastructure at hand. Giving them the peace of mind that what matters to them most will be looked after, that they have the right prevention measures in place, but also, they know the quickest and most effective ways to implement the relevant measures should an incident occur.

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Unfortunately, incidents happen all around the clock, so it’s important your clients can speak with their insurers straight away should they need to make a claim. Customers’ expectations have changed in recent years, they want to be able to talk to insurers, and deal digitally with them, 24/7.

That’s why it is now important that claims centres are open 24/7, 365 days a year. It’s important brokers and clients are provided with various ways to reach their insurer, not a one-size-fits-all solution. To speak to someone who, irrespective of time, whether through call or email, can move that claim along, even if it’s the weekend or the middle of the night.

One of the things I found interesting from the survey, was to see that brokers’ preference was for the insurer to deal with their claims 100% in-house (see figure 2). In my view, and as confirmed by the result, brokers prefer insurers to use their claims expertise and knowledge to be at the forefront of the claims service, managing a claim all the way through from first notification right through to resolution and beyond.

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To support that, insurers should be looking to invest in their in-house capabilities, outsourcing less and integrating new innovations. This could include ‘claims centres of excellence’ located around the country, each focusing on different areas of risks, giving brokers dedicated levels of expertise in each line of business.

Other innovations worth considering are desk engineers and property surveyors who use video technology to manage claims remotely. This speeds up the claims process massively and makes it easier for the client to interact with an insurer without the need for an onsite survey.

That by no means undervalues the importance of having field teams, available across the country, as the boots on the ground after a loss. Teams that can be in the customers business, facing into the reality of what’s happened, ready to help and make decisions there and then, such as arranging interim payments where necessary.

In the survey, brokers grievances included delays in appointing a loss adjuster and reluctance to make interim payments. It’s important to push the claims process along to keep the customer trading and mitigate the risk of further impact to their business.

One notable trend is for insurers to recruit in-house adjusters – we have a team of major complex loss consultants who deal with the larger losses. The benefit of having an in-house resource includes not having the authorisation limits an outsourced team would have. They’ve also got better access to wording and policy documents as they’re part of an insurer, again making it quicker and easier to progress claims without having to continually report back to the claims centre.

It’s no news to anyone that quicker claims reporting will help to keep claims costs to a minimum. For brokers it’s about helping the insurer to get all the information needed to settle there and then, as well as providing direct access to the client’s contact details. For commercial motor customers, it takes an average of 22 days to report a claim where there can be lots of opportunities for this to happen sooner. If a customer is at fault, and an insurer captures the third party information straight away, it could save an average of £1,000, reducing inflated costs and increased premiums – the right outcome for all stakeholders.

Insurers need to embrace new technology to continue to improve claims efficiency at the same rate as business processes and requirements are evolving. Online claims reporting ranked as the most useful here, which is no real surprise as it makes it much quicker and simpler to provide crucial and timely information (see figure 3).

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Access to claims data, in real time can help brokers and insurers to speed up ongoing claims to get them settled quickly. It also helps identify potential spurious claims against the client, especially in the mid-market space, where organisations may not have a health and safety department to keep track of incidents. The importance of reporting quickly is key to defending the customers against this type of incident, in good time, and to reduce any inflated claims costs.

With this in mind, insurers need to listen to their broker contacts to understand how they want to interact with them. This could include an online system to allow brokers to see the data and management information an insurer has captured in relation to their clients’ claims, understanding why certain claims are happening and then leveraging that data to implement strategies to prevent them happening in the future.

In summary, it’s refreshing to see that the output of the Broker Commercial Claims Survey shows that the views and experiences of brokers align with the services, processes and procedures we have and are putting in place.

To stay ahead, insurers need to constantly look at ways that they can continue to develop, along with brokers, to ensure the claims process is as fast, fair and reliable as possible for all customers and inspire confidence that when incidents occur, there is a claims process in place that reflects the bespoke needs of their business.

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