Behind the 8 Ball

By Craig Robinson, head of Business Development, North America at Xuber | November 20, 2013

behind the 8 ball8 Hidden Claims Headaches for Commercial Insurers and How to Cure Them

Grabbing the lion’s share of an insurer’s revenue, claims involves multiple stakeholders, including handlers, underwriters, brokers and lawyers — each with a different perspective, and each with a different headache and set of unique challenges, often caused by aging systems.

Yet despite their frustrations, multiple stakeholders in the claims process remain content to silently ‘put up’ with the pain of claims – locked in a staid but volatile way of working. So let’s take a look at eight hidden frustrations often experienced by many in the claims process:

1) One view fits all
While claims handlers might be able to log into policy databases, they often have to navigate through numerous screens to find the answers they need – having to take the same journey as, say, a policy administrator. In parallel, underwriters have similar headaches but on a wider scale – arguably a whole article in itself, but still noteworthy here. In the absence of common records of their customers’ history, activity or claims – past or present — they often struggle to see the whole policy performance picture.

2) Your filing cabinet or mine?
Disparity of systems combined with discrepancies in data type and format are the cause of pain for many involved in the claims process. Virtually unheard of in the slick realms of B2C insurance, claims handlers today alarmingly still need to consult microfiche or hard copy files to garner an up-to-date policy picture. (Now, where’s the telex machine?)

3) I have a dream
In the high end world of commercial insurance, where policies don’t necessarily fit standard coverage, accessing complete and up-to-date policy data is often a nightmare – especially when underwriters may have included or excluded policy aspects on a customized basis. Many commercial claims handlers can only dream of the customer-centric policy information now being used in the world of personal claims.

4) Passports at the ready
Commercial insurance is now a global concern, with insurers attempting to serve customers across multiple countries. Yet such a global vision requires global capabilities with local autonomy – and many insurance systems just can’t cope with multi-currency policies where cross-border risk is involved.

5) Comparing apples with apples
Disparity of information is an all too common causeof pain for claims handlers and underwriters alike. For example, an accounts system might report that a client has been paid losses amounting to so much, while policy data says otherwise. Such anomalies breed mistrust both internally and externally, and erode productivity through investigation and explanation.

6) Customers feel the pain too
Claims is often referred to as the ‘window to the soul of the commercial insurer.’ And today’s customers are demanding ever-increasing visibility on top of exceptional service. A bad claim resulting in a lost customer is not necessarily one that isn’t settled. It can be brought about by poor interactions where customers have to repeat information; or when they experience slow settlements and are left in the dark for long periods.

7) It’s all in your head
Many claims processes that insurers deploy today have evolved through a mesh of ad-hoc support and manual workarounds. In other words, processes outside of systems are patched together to give a viable service. In such an environment, insurers operate almost organically, often with undocumented practices existing purely in the heads of employees.

8) Don’t forget your conduits
It’s easy to lose sight of the fact that brokers also risk putting customer relationships in jeopardy if the claims information they need from you is not at their fingertips. And that goes for lawyers and adjusters too.

So the question is, are there common solutions to these headaches?

Fundamentally, simplifying and expediting claims is about how you orchestrate your systems, data and processes to give your people, partners and customers the right information, at the right time, in a relevant format.

Today’s insurance systems provide multiple claims stakeholders with customized and collaborative windows into each other’s worlds, and provide a united ‘single version of the truth’ via intuitive application interfaces. Such systems are also enabling commercial insurers to realize greater efficiencies in data capture, minimizing rekeying and duplication of effort.

Initiatives that make insurers ‘easier to do business with’ need to take precedence. Hand in hand, the importance and influence of third parties – brokers, lawyers, and adjusters alike – needs to be acknowledged – with huge benefits to be reaped by insurers that facilitate better openness and two-way communication between their channels.

Our industry possesses a raft of talented and vibrant people, yet many are embroiled in making the claims machine work. Distracted, it’s so easy to forget that relationships are fundamental in securing customer trust, credibility and longevity, and technology needs to free people to forge such relationships.

Easing the claims headaches of your people and channels won’t happen overnight, nor is it an easy journey, but the technology and support exists to achieve this with incremental steps. And those that focus on relieving the pain of their customers will naturally see their own headaches diminish, and quickly add returns to their bottom line.

So maybe it’s time to take a look in your medicine cabinet for pain relief. And if it’s looking a little bare, remember to make a shopping list of remedies that includes:

  • Partners who understand your market.
  • Systems that integrate smoothly.
  • Tailored user interfaces that users will actually use.

Read the instructions carefully and take the right dosage, and a pain-free claims environment is yours for the taking.

Craig RobinsonCraig Robinson, head of Business Development, North America at Xuber, has a proven track record selling technology solutions in the insurance/reinsurance arena. His career to date has included roles with StoneRiver, Sherwood International/Sunguard and ReCapital, General and National Reinsurance companies. With over 30 years’ experience in the reinsurance software market, Craig has been instrumental in helping companies extend their market penetration and drive revenue.

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