Managing ongoing waves

Managing ongoing waves | Insurance Business Australia

Managing ongoing waves

Summer – and, accordingly, storm season – is just around the corner. In the wake of the Hayne royal commission, customer expectations are arguably at the highest they’ve ever been – and, combined with the fact that many customers will be lodging claims for the first time in a post-COVID world, many claims consultants are viewing it with some trepidation. From a customer perspective, there’s often an elevated level of anxiety associated with peak claim events. The disruption and impact of the loss or damage to the customer’s personal possessions and assets can be significant. Additionally, there’s often a perception that the claims process is needlessly complex.

But this is also an opportunity for brokers, claims consultants and insurers alike to demonstrate their value to their clientele. Proactive management of the customer’s claim can both streamline and speed insurer response – and, in turn, lessen the disruption to the customer’s life – while also having a positive flow-on effect to all parties involved in the claims process.

This proactive approach is a critical feature of any successful event response management. There are some broad principles that can be applied: a structured approach to managing incoming claims, the inventory, the GICOP and client requirements; juggling phone, triage and claims teams and dealing with personnel issues simultaneously; and being able to react and adapt to each individually as the waves of incoming priorities ebb and flow. There’s no question that this can be challenging when the phone’s ringing off the hook and new claims are piling up, but if you have the fundamentals in place, then you’ll have a substantially easier time dealing with the workplace challenges that inevitably occur during disaster seasons.

“The retention of a personal association with the customer cannot be overstated, particularly with the more complex claims”

It’s an approach that we’ve worked hard to utilise internally. Currently, Gallagher Bassett is the only specialist claims expert in Australia and New Zealand to have a permanently structured catastrophe team. Experience has taught us that a combination of long- and short-term deployment of teams represents the best operating model to cater for the flexible nature of short and legacy event management. Relying solely on short-term deployment – where resources are allocated only for the duration of the event – can pose significant risks compared to the retention of a core experienced event management team.

  • Multiple insurers are recruiting from the same geographic market pool of resources, diluting the available expertise.
  • People available and willing to accept short, temporary assignments for a couple of months’ duration are difficult to secure.
  • The pool of likely talent for such short periods is limited to entry-level candidates; experienced candidates are more likely to be secured via longer-term engagements.
  • Initial high attrition is likely due to the fast-paced and frenetic nature of event response deployments.
  • Short-term surge deployments put added pressure on seconded managers required to step in to additionally focus on the current scenarios.
  • There are generally inadequate ingrained event management disciplines able to be leveraged from short-term teams.

A common frustration raised by customers in complex claims scenarios is that they have to repeat their circumstances to multiple claims consultants who may action their claim from time to time. The retention of a personal association with the customer cannot be overstated, particularly with the more complex claims; accordingly, the retention of a core permanent event response team and the adoption of a case-managed approach to complex catastrophe claims will have a significant impact on the customer service experience.

Ultimately, a failure to juggle and effectively manage competing customer, client and stake-holder expectations will lead to additional waves of escalated complaints. Once these waves of calls, emails, GICOP deadlines and escalations gain momentum, they can be difficult to contain, leading to unwanted disputes, media exposure and increased customer attrition. Remaining ahead of the waves is the key to disciplined event management.

Damien Gilhooley has been with Gallagher Bassett for more than 20 years and is currently the general manager of integrated claims solutions.