Farmers Insurance, one of the largest property & casualty insurance companies in the United States, is on a quest to transform from a “legacy leader” in the insurance industry into an “agile, bold, mover and shaker”. This objective, according to Sam Santiago, head of claim strategy and automation for Farmers Insurance, can only be achieved by leveraging emerging technology to help accelerate the delivery of products and services that today’s consumers have come to expect.
“The world is changing faster now more than ever, and so are the expectations of our customers,” said Santiago. With the rise of smartphones and the Internet of Things, consumers today expect a high level of service, personalization, convenience and technology from their insurance companies – and the bar is continuously being set higher by online retail and tech giants like Amazon and Apple. Santiago added: “The evolution of those day to day expectations influence what consumers expect from their insurance carrier, especially when it comes to when they need us the most - when they experience a claim.”
Technology has transformed the claim space in recent years. Many insurers, Farmers included, are making use of mobile apps, which enable quick and virtual loss estimations via the remote capture of photo and video by policyholders, as well as claim tracking services and quick-access communication. Another technology investment that’s proven effective – particularly in the case of extreme weather events - is the use of aerial imagery and drones to help expedite claims processing on the back end.
“We know that our approach [to claims] cannot be a one-size-fits-all. Our customers have individual preferences,” said Santiago during a fireside chat at Connected Claims USA. “The current pandemic has shown us that change can be accelerated both with our teams internally and with our customers, and we have witnessed significant improvement in our adoption of digital tools. We also know that we must continue to build on that momentum, and our employees and our customers have shown us that we must continue to test new and emerging technologies, learn and make decisions more rapidly, and stay ahead of customer expectations.
“Improving our customer experience begins with a greater understanding of how the customer chooses to interact with their insurance carrier. As current and future customers expect more from us, and really any company that they interact with, we continue to look at legacy tools and processes to modernize that experience for our customers. This can mean enhancing an existing digital channel such as FNOL, or finding new areas of the claims processes that we can digitize.
“We focus on those touch points, where they have told us they don’t want to have to pick up the phone. Our innovation has to be driven by the needs of our customers. This can include solutions such as providing them more transparency into their claim status. We want to make it easier for our customers across all lines to be able to file a claim, get the status, know what we’re working on and what we need from them to resolve their claim. For many customers, it’s their first claim and they don’t know what to expect. We have the opportunity to make that process as easy as possible for them.”
COVID-19 has further increased the importance of virtual inspection tools to meet customers’ needs, according to Santiago, who added that Farmers’ customers seek flexibility. They want the ability to use self-service tools that allow them to provide Farmers with the information needed to quickly process their claims, while also having the option to interact on a personal level if needed.
“As artificial intelligence, and other technologies like it, advance our damage evaluation, we’re able to provide our adjusters with much more information to help in the process of making faster decisions,” Santiago commented. “We expect this space to continue to evolve as start-ups disrupt or integrate with existing technology. It’s incredible how everyday technology is used and we’re becoming accustomed to using it to process claims. As cameras and phone technology continue to evolve, we can not only expect more [easy virtual capabilities], but we also have the ability to get faster, more accurate measurements.”