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Most people likely have very little day-to-day, personal interaction with their insurance carriers and probably don’t often think about the organizations protecting their home, car or business; that is until they have a claim—an event that can make or break this important relationship, because claims interactions, though infrequent, have the greatest effect on customer loyalty.
Today’s consumers—and especially millennials—are increasingly fickle and demanding. They want instant access to updates and information via SMS text or email and prefer self-service DIY models. Retailers have largely driven this trend, providing consumers with seamless omni-channel experiences and 24/7 email and text communications. When we order something online or via a mobile app, we instantly receive a confirmation. When it ships we receive an update. When it’s been delivered, we are notified. Consumers are more empowered today than ever before and with that power comes a sense of entitlement and sky-high service expectations. Welcome to the new norm of doing business.
The insurance industry was not an early adopter of this approach, but it has begun to embrace digital transformation, using social media for customer service, self-service portals for content inventorying and policy quotes, all designed to create a more frictionless path to purchase. While some carriers are deploying basic apps to provide simple, mostly static accident reporting forms, it is here, after an event and a first notice of loss (FNOL) is filed, that insurance organizations can and should seize the opportunity to leap ahead of, instead of lagging behind customer expectations.
A will but not a way
That same empowered retail customer is now a policyholder with a fender bender or a flooded basement. Tensions are high and so is the expectation of service. Carriers and agents have the opportunity to create or reinforce a more personal relationship, enhance the customer experience and deepen loyalty. And they want to do so. Yet this is where today the consumer is often returned back to the antiquated, paper-intensive, manual and off-line FNOL process that has existed for decades.
This process, using universal claim intake forms and pulling data from disparate, legacy systems, is familiar and serves its original purpose—basic standardization of claims information in written format—ideal for the snail mail and fax era in which it matured. However, because the paper-trail process amounts to being a ‘static’ claim intake, it has serious limitations. Few could argue that it is overdue for a digital overhaul.
Traditional claim description narrations are often fraught with inconsistent and sometimes contradictory information that can delay resolution. Paper-based documentation limits the ability to run predictive analytics and in-depth modeling, or to extract any sort of sharable business intelligence that can lead to insights such as catching inaccurate claim data or even fraudulent activity. Digitizing this process enables the claim intake to become dynamic, using business rules and intelligence that guides the claim representative through a kind of hand-holding process to capture more detailed, accurate, consistent and reliable data that is now available for data analytics.
Today’s luxury sedans are literally a rolling Wi-Fi modem that can auto-send alerts to dealers when the car is overdue for maintenance. Setting up telematics will simply be a matter of downloading a mobile app or activating the service when purchasing the vehicle. Eventually all cars and trucks will carry a black box of recorded data and storage, data that could conceivably be fed to report accident information directly into this new digitized claim intake application.
For both claimants and adjusters, use of the paper-driven manual intake form too often leads to a long and frustrating ordeal where they are left in the dark about the status of their claim, their car rental or the water mitigation service. Claimants must take time out of their day to make endless phone calls to the insurer, their agent and whatever service providers need to be involved. In such a competitive market, quality of service is often either an insurer’s differentiator or its undoing. With over half of consumers at risk for churning due to poor customer service, there’s a lot at stake.
Customer-centric FNOL as ‘FNAR’
The insurance industry is ripe for a new approach to claims reporting, one that embraces technology to streamline the process and open lines of communication across all stakeholders. FNOL, or first notice of loss, should be a matter of FNAR, or first notice and resolution. Let carriers, agents and clients get the information and updates they need, when, where and how they want it across any and all desktop or mobile device and delivered via the customer’s preferred method. An application that is vertically deep and horizontally rich will lead to swift and accurate claim resolution.
Leveraging advanced technology, this approach could combine the initial report of a claim with the ability to integrate in real-time with the relevant carrier systems and service providers to give clients answers right away, in the moment, at the scene, and on any device. Claimants can check their mobile device or log off their computer happy to know that their car rental is taken care of, the inspection and estimate are done, or that the cleanup service will be at their home tomorrow. Along with claimants, agents would automatically be updated throughout the process so they don’t have to take time to manually follow up on a claims status.
This new FNAR approach would check several boxes for customer service. It would increase customer satisfaction and retention by making reporting and resolving a claim simple, helpful and intuitive for the insured—no matter the reporting method. Agents would have transparency into claims status. And for insurers, a more accurate and complete first notice means less time and resources are needed to resolve a claim, better claim metrics and ultimately more satisfied and loyal clients.