Can government agencies overcome their insurance challenges?

"We're seeing a real paradigm shift at the moment" says expert

Can government agencies overcome their insurance challenges?

Insurance News

By Daniel Wood

The COVID-19 pandemic is finally loosening its tight grip. As Australia’s federal, state and local governments emerge into the light of day, they face tough challenges meeting new expectations from their employees and customers, including in the insurance space.

“We’re seeing a real paradigm shift at the moment where on the one hand technology means people expect near instantaneous service but at the same time people expect greater and greater personalisation of the service they receive,” said Emma Hosking (pictured), senior business development manager at Gallagher Bassett (GB) and their national government insurance specialist.

GB specializes in managing insurance claims and has operations across Australia and globally. In Australia the company supports 168 distinct government agencies for all classes of claims.

Hosking said they partner with government agencies to develop claims models that pair global best practice with each agency’s unique local requirements.

“Off the back of COVID-19, we’re seeing government agencies investing heavily in their ability to be agile and change quickly, recognising that we’re operating in an environment of an increasing rate of change,” she said.

Some of her more interesting work was with police and fire departments in Victoria and Tasmania.

“Emergency service agencies have some unique challenges in terms of the pressures their employees face. By partnering so closely with the emergency services sector we’ve learned a lot about dealing with the most challenging kinds of working environment, that can then be applied to other agencies,” she said.

As new risks emerge more quickly, Hosking said agencies are seeking partners who can bring “low risk rapid change and implementation capability” to the table.

“That’s our focus – pairing the right claims experts with the right technology to deliver a high quality, efficient service experience with highly personalised customer service and the expertise needed to solve complex claims issues,” she said.

She said there’s a key difference between working with government agencies in the insurance space compared to private companies.

“As a key bottom line, governments are in place to serve the community,” she said. “We are always mindful of this at GB and take great pride in the work we do supporting government.”

Hosking said as governments emerge from the pandemic they are facing financial sustainability issues and uncertainty around how best to support their own workforce and communities.

“This is where we will start to see a greater focus on putting people first, to ensure the right people remain onboard as we step into this new phase,” she said.

During nearly a decade with GB and two before that in various roles with ReturnToWorkSA, Hosking has seen the government approach to insurance change.

“For me, personally, the most valuable experience I have is my time working within government. This has really helped me understand the inner workings and priorities of government, which really helps drive successful partnerships with government agencies,” she explained.

Today, she said, governments are more focused on the personalisation of the claims experience and holistic care for the individual.

“There’s also a greater focus on prevention and earlier intervention, with many agencies investing in screening and support solutions to avoid injuries, rather than purely managing incidents after they occur,” she said.

Hosking’s work for GB has taken her as far and wide as Norfolk Island and the Northern Territory.

“It’s certainly a fantastic part of the job – being able to visit and work closely with governments and communities right across the country to really make a difference in the way they support their employees.”

In the Northern Territory she worked with the territory government (NTG) to overhaul an old claims scheme which had been in place for more than 20 years.

“We worked closely with NTG to implement a personalised service model that met the remote and regional requirements, and integrated direct agency support as well as community engagement and a local GB workforce,” she said.

Hosking said the results were striking. The NTG team saw a 33% improvement in return to work in just over three months and more than 100% improvement within a year.

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