It is almost a year to the day that the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) launched the Society for Claims Professionals (SOCP). In the last 12 months this society, which now has almost 10,000 members worldwide, has established itself as a community committed to supporting claims professionals.
According to Matthew Hall (pictured), strategy & operations manager of the CII, this first year has been dedicated to building solid foundations for the society and putting in place a robust operational structure.
It has been something of a whirlwind, he said, as the SOCP has worked to provide insight to its members on the matters which are of greatest concern to them, and focused on providing good practice guidance and thought leadership.
“As far as possible,” he said, “we’re really trying to respond both proactively and reactively to what’s happening in the market.”
A lot of the good practice guidance offered by the society throughout 2019 was focused on vulnerable customers, Hall said, and he stated that this is unlikely to change across the course of the next year with the imminent release of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)’s consultation results.
“This has been a case of listening to our members around where they feel that they, their staff and their colleagues need support in terms of skills and knowledge,” he said. “We’ve looked at issues like vulnerable customers and made sure that we’re responding to those needs.”
The SOCP will be closely engaging with the FCA and their consultation to guide the work they do within this area, Hall said. He detailed how the focus of the Society is to examine the high-level principles the FCA are issuing around the treatment of customers, and to break that down into more detail to see how it translates into good culture and behaviour within firms.
“This has gone beyond just looking at vulnerable customers as a single group,” he said, “for instance over the last year we’ve looked at how insurers can become more dementia-friendly and how we treat individuals with HIV-positive diagnoses. We’re really starting to look at different forms of vulnerability and how to deal with each of those.”
The CII examines diversity and inclusion in the insurance industry via a broad range of initiatives, Hall said, and the definition of vulnerability is very likely to broaden.
“The key component when we use the word ‘diverse’ is ensuring that we are offering solutions fit for a number of different group’s needs,” he noted. “So, we certainly take diversity and inclusion into account when we’re considering vulnerability and how we respond to that.”
Another central thematic issue for SOCP throughout 2020 aligns with the overarching objective of the CII, Hall said, and this relates to public trust. This will be examined from a number of perspectives, he stated, but the two most essential considerations are those of perception and behaviour.
“How the public view the claims sector is often quite at odds with the reality,” he said. “And I don’t think it’s really the sector’s place to complain about that as much as to address some of those issues.”
Hall noted research which indicates that those who have made a claim tend to have a better perception of the claims sector than those who haven’t. This suggests the disconnect between perception and reality, he said, and can be aided by the sector highlighting cases of good practice as well as calling out cases of bad practice.
It is not just about perception, however, he said, it’s about the behaviour of the industry as well. Hall explained that it is not enough to simply say that that the insurance industry is fundamentally a positive force for society, but that the industry has to demonstrate the right behaviours as well. He outlined how this emphasis on the role of the insurance industry as a force for societal good goes beyond just the claims sector.
“We must, as an industry, demonstrate the importance of insurance and the importance of having professionals at all stages of that process right through from the broker selling the products and services to the claim sectors actually dealing with those claims,” he said.
It may be too early to judge whether there has been a shift in the perception of how claims professionals are viewed in wider society, but Hall is hopeful that the strategy of the SOCP and the work they are delivering, will have an appreciable impact upon this. The CII’s public trust index, which is an ongoing piece of work, has the difficult task of measuring public trust in insurance, he said, and will continue to be a key measure of the success of the SOCP.
“A lot of our work over the last 12 months has been focused on trying to provide guidance for the industry and to change behaviour within the industry,” he said. “I would hope that some of that will now start to filter through to better outcomes for customers, which should positively move that perception.”