The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered greater analysis into how insurance companies do business. With lockdowns, social distancing and other preventative measures in place, insurers had to pivot their operations and find ways of serving customers digitally, while also keeping the health and safety of employees and clients front and centre.
At RSA Canada, when the immediate impacts of the pandemic were realized and provincial governments started implementing local lockdowns, the top priority was to “maintain a safe and stable environment” for RSA employees, broker partners and customers, explained John Elliott (pictured), the insurer’s Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer.
With an eye on constant improvement, the P&C insurance giant regularly makes investments into its operational infrastructure. It had many initiatives in flight as the pandemic struck, which helped to mitigate some of the immediate challenges felt by businesses countrywide. But as COVID-19 has shown, no company or individual is immune to the impact of such a systematic event.
“We were able to react quickly to the pandemic thanks to strong business continuity planning, and we shifted our employees to work-from-home (WFH) very efficiently,” said Elliott. “While we were quick, we did encounter some challenges. For example, we didn’t have enough mobile agent ports when we first made the switch to WFH. We also had to upgrade our VPN and firewalls, and we had to accelerate the last part of our desktop to laptop conversion.
“We fine-tuned our response as we went along, working closely with our partners to ensure three key things: that we keep the company running smoothly and protect our customers; we keep our projects in flight on track; and we react appropriately to changing marketplace conditions.”
That third point revolved around a number of pandemic relief measures that RSA Canada brought to market, including providing rate relief for both personal and commercial clients.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has caused us to rethink a lot of the ways we do work today,” said Elliott. “For instance: only a few people have to go back in the office - and what’s driving that mostly? Paper and mindset. So, we asked ourselves how we can start getting rid of paper in our company and when, working with brokers and policyholders. We asked ourselves: ‘Do customers want to come in and meet with us? What would it take in order to eliminate that need?’”
RSA introduced a series of initiatives – inspired by the customer-centric platforms offered by tech giants Amazon, Apple and the like – to further establish omni-channel communication with its broker partners and policyholders. The insurer highlighted ways for brokers and policyholders to conduct business digitally, through quick and easy 24/7 channels, while always keeping the option of in-person interaction.
The insurer is also promoting the use of tools like RSA Pro and RSA Claims Point. Its SME tool, RSA Pro, helps brokers to build their books of business by enabling them to instantly quote and bind three key business segments: retail; contracting and business; and professional services, which collectively account for 90% of small business. The firm has also made enhancements to the digital communication capabilities within RSA Claims Point. By giving both broker and the customer the opportunity to track the status of the claim, Claims Point® now receives 25% of the insurer’s overall claims submissions.
In addition, RSA has made a number of adaptations during the pandemic, which Elliott hopes will “bring a whole new level of efficiency” to both internal and external operations. The firm is in the process of removing paper printing, and is currently working with a provider who will act as a reception house for inbound paper, scanning, index and storing in an electronic document management system. On an outbound basis, Elliott says RSA is interested in moving forward with CSIO initiatives, like the My Proof of Insurance Solution, wherever the regulatory environment allows, and where brokers and clients are receptive to digital channels.
“We realized that if we could incorporate technology to become more efficient internally, that would result in a better internal cost structure, ultimately leading to better pricing for customers,” Elliott told Insurance Business. “At the same time, we can give our partners a much wider range of options in terms of how they can interact with us, and we can make that process much easier for them.”
A fully digital insurance company must have the right backend systems, production support and data analytics, according to Elliott, in order to enhance everyday activities like risk assessment and pricing, fraud detection and prevention, and portfolio management.
“We have to be more sophisticated in terms of how our systems operate and how we use our data, while also focusing on the quality of that data,” Elliott added. “Our systems have to be ‘smart’ enough that we rarely need to have a human intervene or assist. This pandemic has been an epiphany for RSA in terms of the tools and the processes that we’ve had to adopt quickly. Insurance can be as advanced as other industries, especially when it comes to our digital capabilities. At RSA, we’re not talking about going back to what it was like pre-pandemic. We’re focused on what our new company looks like. We want to be an Amazon-like company in the sense that we’re just a pleasure to deal with online.”