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Roundtable: Vulnerable customers: how does technology deliver fairer claims outcomes?

Genpact roundtable
Pictured, l-r: Janette Bell, head of claims customer experience, Tesco Underwriting; Vicki Heslop, head of customers claims – personal lines, Covéa; Martin Ashfield, property and casualty claims director, Axa; Sue McCall, head of claims, Aspen Insurance; Matthew Madsen, Vice-president and claims leader, Genpact; Shradha Patel, head of customer and conduct – claims, RSA; Angus Rogers, head of claims operations, Canopius; Andrew Reid, head of claims, Home & Legacy; Paul Dixon, head of claims proposition and market insight, Zurich; and Nick Lincoln, digital and transformation services partner, Genpact

The FCA continues to be concerned about the problems faced by vulnerable customers. The regulator is expected to soon unveil a consultation to provide clarity on expectations of firms. Experienced claims handlers will play a key role in helping insurers meet these expectations, while insurers are exploring how to supplement this expertise. Post brought together senior claims figures to discuss how technology can assist, at a roundtable sponsored by Genpact

What are the current strategies being used to identify vulnerable customers and manage their claims and can this data be trusted?

Andrew Reid: Our model is a high-touch customer service model and we don’t expect that to change any time soon. Our reliance is on the expertise of our handlers in identifying vulnerable characteristics or customers.

Where this meets with the technology, is that we want to use technology to free up that expertise to have more added value, interactions and better identifying.

Janette Bell: Even before the vulnerable customer guidance came out, our claims process was about managing the predicament of each individual customer.

We expanded that strategy to include vulnerability and supported our claims handlers, defining how they identify those vulnerabilities a bit more than previously.

Shradha Patel: Where you identify vulnerability, you then communicate with that customer base on that type of vulnerability. You have to tailor your approach, but you would do that for any customer anyway.

What we do at RSA as well, especially within our personal lines teams, we have ring-fenced teams where one customer is identified. We have an individually tailored approach for that particular vulnerable person from an end-to-end perspective.

We then have a forum where we can share that best practice across product areas as well. Because while within the product areas, say it’s a pet insurance product and they’re making a claim, they’re quite emotive, because their pet has recently passed away.

We ensure that we’re constantly learning through best practice.

In motor, we have a ‘VC’ hashtag reference to that customer, with notes below, and that’s identified all the way through. Anyone who then picks up that claim is able to identify straight away what that means.

How can analytics, artificial intelligence, and robotic process automation be integrated into claims functions to identify vulnerable customers more accurately?

Nick Lincoln: If the starting point is somebody taking out a policy, there’s a set of questions you can ask, while there’s a set of questions you can’t ask or are inappropriate. The complexity in this comes around, when you talk about AI and data, how do I get various sources of data externally that can supplement the questions that I’m asking at the sale piece?

How do I then treat them fairly? And then how do I feed in that experience to claims? Some of the factors of vulnerability are more material than others.

Can speech analytics help?

Martin Ashfield: Speech analytics could potentially be used. It’s looking at those alternative pieces that we have, but thinking of different uses.

If you used speech analytics, it would pick up the stress signals and give you a way to inform. Experienced handlers may well have picked it up already. The really empathetic ones, high EQ people. But that’s one way that technology can help. If you’re unsure or uncertain, use the technology in a more positive and customer friendly way.

Paul Dixon: Speech analytics is a tool to get you to a point. You’ve still, then, got the ability of your people to pick that up and manage that in the right way to reflect an individual’s needs.

It’s the right thing to explore, but it’s not the silver bullet to solve it.

Nick Lincoln: There’s a danger, when people talk about automation and AI that they mean AI is going to give an answer and that is the answer. It’s more that the potential is there to augment the experienced handler.

That’s the subtlety that has to be considered about building models. How do you deploy it? And then the other piece will be that at some point the Financial Conduct Authority will ask to see the models and say, “Give us your audit trail on how you’re identifying people.”

If you are going to start going down that AI journey, the FCA will go, ‘I want to understand the traceability of those models that are recommended and highlighting customers that are vulnerable.’

How should insurers design their claims processes to adapt to deal with vulnerable customers?

Shradha Patel: It’s a culture-centric view that that’s your end game, you need to ensure that you’re delivering a good customer outcome. For us, the vulnerability points are quite prevalent throughout all our personalised business. What we’re trying to do more is have vulnerable customer champions within all operational teams.

If they identify a vulnerable customer or potential elements of vulnerability, they know exactly where to go and who to speak to for help. That leads to more individual training as well.

We identify through file reviews which handlers are potentially not identifying vulnerable customers, where that customer may have made a complaint.

From the end-to-end journey we’re looking at what we believe are the moments that matter to a customer.

It’s less around technology, but it’s really around that continual learning process. It’s the training element that plays a vital part.

Sue McCall: Call centres are a high-pressured environment, with a lot of young people in them.

We’ve got to look at our own employees and say okay, you’ve got that at the first notification of loss stage. But now, let’s look at dealing with a really catastrophic injury, or dealing with fatalities, or sexual abuse.

When you’re dealing with those claims, you cannot fail but have it affect you. We’ve got to look at our own employees and make sure that we’re giving them sufficient support.

Angus Rogers: One of the organisations we spotted a while ago had a great culture.

And it began with a 17-year-old, six weeks into the job, who had someone who was threatening to commit suicide on the phone and he hadn’t got a clue what to do. He was obviously scared. That led to him suggesting to the company that it could develop a programme.

There has now been training and awareness about mental health, how to deal with vulnerable customers and  suicide. It’s been a fantastic story.

How do you think the technologies can reassure claims managers are doing the right thing, while managing fluctuating claims and delivering a great customer experience as well?

Vicki Heslop: At the moment it’s quite manual and you’re very reliant on audits and your other quality checks to identify or to try and make sure you’re identifying as many as possible. Exploring more use of the different types of technology that might be available for getting people back on track. You could have customers who choose the online journey, but how do you know that it’s working until a complaint happens?

How does the supply chain play into this?

Andrew Reid: Well, that starts at due diligence, if you use the right suppliers, if you ensure that they’re culturally aligned and that they have a progressive, up-to-date view of the world in terms of vulnerable customers. We just have to make sure that that’s communicated throughout the supply chain.

Janette Bell: And we have a responsibility, don’t we, to make sure that in those situations they feel delegated and empowered to make the right decisionswhen they’re in front of a customer, because sometimes the way that we set up suppliers when they have to come back and ask for approvals doesn’t really help it when they’re on the ground, face-to-face with a customer.

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