Claims is probably among the most crowded technology spaces in the insurance industry. There are so many ‘innovative’ solutions and services on offer that keeping track of them can be a full-time job.
Having been in the trenches of claims technology for over a decade now, here is my personal take on the solutions/platforms/services that offer the most potential value. The focus is on technology areas rather than specific solutions.
Before getting to the list, some thoughts on the imperatives that govern the claims function. There are three key considerations that have guided the choices. They are not unexpected, but it is helpful to note them for context.
Somewhat miraculously, there are technology solutions today that promise to improve customer experience while controlling severity and adjustment expense. In this series of posts, I propose to look at closely at some of these starting with something that may sound (ahem) prosaic but has tremendous potential. In fact, it is the combination of familiarity of the technology, relative ease of integration and the often over-looked potential that made me pick this as the first topic.
Let’s talk about text baby… and particularly, as the song goes, ‘let’s talk about all the good things and the bad things that may be’
Text messages are now the most popular form of communication with US consumers. This is borne out by multiple statistics.
It’s easy to think of text messaging as just another communication channel. However, when it comes to the claims process, text messaging can be a very powerful ‘gateway technology’.
Most insureds have a smart phone these days and are attuned to taking pictures of the damage. Allowing them to send these by text message unlocks many possibilities. Here are some of the features that a full-fledged SMS capability could offer…
Extending this further there are additional possibilities
The most important factor to keep in mind is that text is an effective channel mainly because it is relatively underutilized. Customers check and respond to text messages because they expect the message to be urgent or significant. It is important not to misuse the channel by bombarding the customer with unnecessary texts.
Secondly, no matter what the solution, it must allow for the entire text message conversation to be saved to the claim file in the system of record. To my knowledge this problem has not yet been fully solved. Some carriers have custom built solutions using platforms such as Twilio while others are using third party solutions from the likes of ZipWhip, HiMarley or others. Yet others channel their interactions through CRM solutions such as Salesforce. Only the first approach allows for automatic indexing of conversations and it is an expensive option. I’d welcome readers’ own experience with this issue.
Thirdly as claims organizations add services and solutions there is a real danger of the customer getting text messages from multiple unfamiliar numbers. While this is an issue common to the other major digital channel (email), the customers do not have the same sort of user interfaces to effectively search, sort and file messages, create rules around them etc. The net effect could be increased customer frustration with the process.
To illustrate the risk, consider a reasonably forward-looking carrier Acme Insurance that has enabled some of the key features we have listed above. Let’s say it has
The customer was involved in a minor collision. She drove the vehicle home and reported the claim to Acme. She opted to receive updates through text and provided her phone number. She wasn’t sure if she wanted to get the vehicle repaired so the carrier offered her the option to send pictures of the damage and get an estimate. After getting the estimate she decides to get the vehicle repaired at a DRP shop. She drives the vehicle to the body shop and gets a rental car. There is additional damage discovered by the shop which extends the repair time. Eventually the vehicle is repaired, and the customer gets it back.
If these different services are not properly integrated, let’s look at the customer experience from a text message perspective. These are the minimum texts she will receive
In this relatively simple example, the customer has received texts from 4 different numbers. As the carrier plugs in more services, the likelihood of receiving more messages from more numbers increases.
Is it worth the additional integration effort to send all text messages go from the carrier’s number? For many the answer may be ‘perhaps not’. Carriers can consider the following more cost-effective, practical approaches:
To sum it up here are the key takeaways
Nachiket Jeurkar is a Principal with Exavalu and leads the Insurance Practice. He has over 25 years of experience in management consulting and the insurance industry. You can reach him at Nachiket.Jeurkar@exavalu.com
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