Most consumers do not want to report their insurance claims in the two most common ways currently utilised within the industry, according to Simon Yun-Farmbrough (pictured), the executive chairman of 360Globalnet. This business, which provides digital claims technology to the global insurance sector, has been working overtime with insurance companies over the last few weeks due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, and Yun-Farmbrough highlighted how this crisis has emphasised the steps that insurers can take to help themselves through the digitisation of their claims process.
Though the pandemic has created a requirement for such solutions, he said, the fact remains that consumers have sought digital claims services for a while now and are no longer content either to pick up a phone and speak with a call centre, or print off, fill out and post forms. People generally prefer taking some photos or a video with their own devices that show exactly what happened rather than having to explain this to the insurer over the phone, he said. And that is just the start as repairers and the supply chain can also be linked into one seamless digital process.
For insurance companies this comes with two major benefits, he noted. Firstly, customer satisfaction “goes through the roof” as they are more comfortable with the flexibility and accessibility afforded by these solutions. Secondly, this technology saves insurers substantial amounts of money when it comes to claims handling as they are able to control the cost of the claim much more closely and increase productivity. Yun-Farmbrough highlighted that it is the latter of these benefits and the capacity of these solutions to double productivity, so relieving the pressure on claims handling staff, that has really come to the fore during this outbreak.
“This is a very good time to be doing more things digitally for insurers,” he said. “What I would worry about if I was running an insurance company is the risk that call centres or claims handling centres have to close because somebody is infected, or staff have to self-isolate.”
The question for these companies is how they can maintain their businesses when fewer staff are available, he said, and the digitisation of the claims process is able to greatly reduce the workload of the claims handling team.
Another benefit of the 360SiteView platform offered by 360Globalnet, he stated, is that staff are fully enabled to work remotely and taking work out of the call centres and into the home environment is of real human benefit during this crisis. Finally, with home visits so difficult in the current climate, gathering evidence for claims has become a challenge, he said, but the sophisticated video handling and streaming capabilities of this platform have greatly mitigated this issue for businesses using these technologies.
Since the coronavirus outbreak, the business has been asked to implement rapid and complete digitisation projects for several leading insurers and brokers within severely limited time frames and this has impressed upon Yun-Farmbrough the capabilities of the platforms offered by the business. Though the systems of the company have been built with these capabilities in mind, he said, seeing how they have been able to respond to the demand of a household name UK insurer to go fully digital within a week has been tremendously satisfying.
“There really is a lot you can do in a very short space of time that will greatly improve your ‘coronavirus resilience’ but also your overall operational resilience so that when the worst happens and half your people can’t come in, you can still keep the show on the road,” he said.
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The business has always tended to work with far-sighted pioneers who embrace the value of such digitisation before its necessity, he noted, but the crisis has created a significant need for this within the sector, and he is confident that the small-scale trials that the company offers will highlight the key benefits of customer satisfaction and reduced claims costs in the long-run. For brokers, he said, claims have traditionally been an area they have tried to avoid but the digitisation of the sector is increasing the understanding that this is an area in which they can add customer value, and an opportunity to build closer relationships with their clients.
It will be difficult for companies which do not embrace the digitisation of the claims process to remain competitive, he said, and Yun-Farmbrough believes that all claims should be handled digitally, right up to the large commercial claims due to the huge advances that are being made in terms of coordinating people and streaming information flow. Within organisations, he noted, until a virus vaccine is developed it seems likely that people will continue to work from home and having the tools in place to support this is essential.
“My view is that we are all going to have to live with this situation for some time yet,” he said, “and it’s not too late to implement something dramatic that can transform your insurance operation and put it in a much better place. Businesses are all under pressure and need to think about how to get themselves in better shape for the weeks and months ahead. Now is a great time to be thinking about the future.”