How the claims business came “out a cave and onto the Starship Enterprise”

Crawford & Co is familiar with bringing innovation to claims, though the journey hasn’t been without its hurdles

How the claims business came “out a cave and onto the Starship Enterprise”

Insurance News

By Alicja Grzadkowska

In 2018, insurtech investment and interest from insurers in technology solutions appeared to keep up with trends seen in previous years, though not all segments of the insurance industry have seen equal enthusiasm for value propositions that aim to improve business processes. Underwriting and distribution might see a lot of innovation, for example, but solutions that are solely focused on improving the claims side of insurance are sometimes harder to find, a leader in this space tells Insurance Business.   

“There is less in claims or sometimes claims is just embedded into some of the insurtech solutions, but not often,” said Kieran Rigby, global president for Crawford Claims Solutions who is responsible for the company’s business segments in the United Kingdom, Europe, Asia-Pacific and Latin American regions. He added that the frontend can be made “slick and fast” with innovations from insurtechs, helping insureds easily buy short-term policy cover or coverage for their valuables, for example, “but the backend for the claims can be very traditional, so there hasn’t been the applications brought to bear to really improve that, to make that as slick as the frontend.”

Crawford is developing solutions internally that can improve the claims process, but is also watching what start-ups and others who might have some of the missing elements are doing. Voice recognition software is one technology that Rigby highlights could be applied when someone needs to file a claim, and advancements in voice modulation have made its adoption in this scenario that much more likely.

“That means that those claims – and it’s a vast majority that come through the filter – that get a green light can be accelerated at lightning speeds and closed,” he said. “That’s the sort of thing that, when we look at the really fast stuff happening at the frontend, needs to be married at the backend to have a complete solution.”

Catastrophic events have been a focal point for innovation at the company. In August 2018, Crawford launched RENOVO, a portal for catastrophe adjusters that enables the company to have ongoing engagement with those adjusters and quickly mobilise teams after events like the recent earthquake in Alaska, where several hundred licensed adjusters were ready to be deployed and whose work could easily be tracked through the application.

“When I look at how we were previously managing CAT events and what we’re able to do now, it’s like coming out a cave and onto the Starship Enterprise,” said Rigby.

Crawford has also partnered with the Hartford InsurTech Hub as a way to have more opportunities to look at and assess start-ups and their solutions, as well as provide mentoring and help connect insurtechs with other insurance industry participants. Meanwhile, when it comes to adjusters, the company has developed a virtual reality tool to train the workforce and lets them roleplay through various scenarios they would encounter on the job, which is important considering how the expectations of this workforce have evolved.

“We know that the world is changing and it’s not even with all the retirements – it’s also because today, if somebody is 25 or 26 with a very good degree, [he or she] doesn’t want to come into our business and then expect to have to spend 15 or 20 years training or on the job before they can actually handle large claims, if that’s what they want to do,” said Rigby. “We have to find better and faster ways, and it doesn’t substitute the mentoring and the coaching and the working with the senior guys, but it’s a very big addition to the formal training.”

Yet, as with other aspects of the insurance buying and selling process, technology isn’t always the solution to everything, which can be especially true in claims.

“It’s still quite likely that we will want a person to make the initial contact because some studies have shown that where there’s a point of shock or loss, people very often want to talk to somebody,” said Rigby. “They might only want one conversation and that gets the ball rolling, but I think we have to be cognisant of that as well, that this isn’t just, put the machines in the room and we all go home or we all go out and play golf. I think it’s a lot more than that – it’s about a high value point of intervention from a person perspective.”

No matter what part of the company is undergoing a technological shift, Crawford has the same mindset across its business when it comes to preparing for the future.

“Everything we’re about today is innovation. We’re in a sector that’s been around for a long time, but it’s probably seen change, I would say, over the last three years that has been absolutely momentous,” said Rigby. “We’re at an inflection point and we’re going to see even more change, so from a Crawford perspective as a leader in that sector, I think it’s incumbent on us to not just embrace this, but to lead it as best we can for our sector.”

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