Andrew Gibbons, BIBA, Chair of Industry Claims Initiative, Blog Brave New World or 1984?

12th November 2019

Like other readers, I have read Aldous Huxley and George Orwell’s versions of what our future may hold, but one wonders how the perception of brokers is being affected by factors in the insurance market. Specifically, a recent survey carried out by a rival publication determined that the vast majority of brokers (95.9%) felt that an insurer’s reputation in terms of claims handling was important when placing commercial business, yet 56.4% said that claims service was worse than 24 months ago, only 9.8% thought it was better.

It is said that perception is reality and despite  vast improvements in the technology used to assist claims processes, it is perhaps of concern that we are still seeing survey results of this nature.

From the tremendous work carried out by the members of the Industry Claims Working Group, chaired by BIBA, these surveys serve to highlight just how much work insurers and other stakeholders need to invest to try to improve customers’ claims journeys.

We have seen how the deployment of artificial intelligence (AI) and chatbots by Zurich during the last major storm surge vastly improved response time. How remote inspections carried out by motor engineers has improved the repair time of vehicles and how behind-the-scenes technology promoted by Aviva to manage non-contended fault claims has also vastly improved settlement times. Claims portals have allowed clients access, like never before, to improve the transparency of the claims process. However, the perennial problem, as to what happens when an enquiry from the claimant falls outside the parameters of the capabilities of the technology, that the underwriting side of insurers has tried to solve is perhaps still prevalent in the claims arena.

Further, I think that the time is coming when AI is used to assess policy wordings and calculate claims decisions/settlements, which we are told, will provide more accurate decisions. Whilst those decisions may well be accurate, they will also be purely logical and perhaps also less sympathetic to the personal circumstances of the human beings they will affect.

Therefore, whilst technology must be embraced in terms of moving the market forward, there are three principles that I believe insurers, brokers and all stakeholders must maintain. They must remain accessible to their policyholder, perhaps 24/7? They must proactively deal with claims rather than remain reactive and wait for the customer to chase them as the “instant” society increasingly demands this. They must also be responsive and settle claims quickly and efficiently with minimum fuss because whilst settlement capability is rising, it is perhaps not rising as fast as customer expectations.

In summary then, whilst this digital age continues to expand, so does the scrutiny and transparency of the industry and to this end, I wonder what the two esteemed authors mentioned above would make of the digital footprint and interaction with technology that increases on a daily basis.