Claims are the cornerstone of our business.
It’s what we do in the Insurance industry. It is the promise we make to our customers when they entrust us with their their hard-earned dollars (aka premium) in exchange for the policy contracts we give them.
If we can’t pay a claim, either because we don’t have enough reserves to do so and/or our processes are too inefficient to enable us to do so, then we will be out of business.
The critical importance of claims to the Insurance value chain was the primary attraction for my attendance at the Connected Claims conference last week in Chicago.
Upon reflection, the event had me thinking about how the claims process fits into the overall Insurtech movement and even more so, why claims needs to be front and center of the discussion as it relates to innovation initiatives by carriers.
This week, I look at:
- What is Connected Claims?
- The utopian claims process
- Does your Insurtech strategy fit into your claims strategy?
- Some startups helping the claims process
What is Connected Claims?
The Connected Claims conference was put on by Insurance Nexus. The conference had 500 participants from 17 countries with a theme of Achieving Seamless Claims.
The format of the event had some of the traditional items one would expect from a conference (panels, presentations, networking and exhibitors).
It also had some unique and extremely enjoyable ones that I had not experienced at other conferences yet this year, such as an interactive roundtable session, an Insurtech Sharktank and some questions for the panelists asked by the audience through Slido.
Stephen Applebaum, Chairman of the conference, kicked off and set the stage for the event by sharing what Connected Claims means to him and for the industry.
Why? To achieve seamless and touchless claims, to compress the claims cycle, to remove significant cost and to deliver superior customer claims experience.
How? Using intermediaries to connect to IoT devices, sensors and mobile devices and anything else that can be connected to transmit data and information.
Also through partnerships – key to success in today’s environment.
Who? Virtually the entire ecosystem. That embraces customers, partners and the entire supply chain for the industry.
What? People, vehicles, property, machines and data (all the trusted and verified sources that one can find, both structured and unstructured).
These are great tenets for us to live by when building a claims experience for our customers.
What does it look like?
The utopian claims process
After setting the stage for the event, Stephen then shared this video.
This video presents almost a utopian version of what a connected claims process could (and perhaps should and will) look like for car insurance.
There are a number of different technologies at play here. These technologies were described by most of the incumbent presenters:
- Telematics to detect when a car has been in an accident – prompting an outbound call to the customers rather than waiting for a reactive call from them.
- Images to capture damage. Videos (specifically live streaming ones) are being used so adjusters don’t need to go from vehicle to vehicle or property to property. Drones are used in this process as well.
- AI to assess damage
- Chatbots to interact with the customer
The process uses technology and automation to help the person ‘get on their way’ quickly after getting into an accident. It fulfills the why, how, who, what and when as outlined by Stephen above.
Not only has the process been built frictionless, it has also been built in such a way that demonstrates a sense of empathy to the individual who has just gotten into an accident.
What’s interesting though, is that these two items, using technologies and empathy to build a great customer experience, is something we have been talking about for a while. Not just for claims – for the whole value chain.
Hence, if the claims process is to be connected, and claims is the most important part to our business, then our overall business processes must be connected to our claims strategy.
Does your Insurtech strategy fit into your claims strategy?
The Insurtech movement has brought to light two important things to our industry:
- Customers’ expectations are changing to a point whereby they want an experience with all companies they interact with to be just as good (if not better) than the last best experience they had, and
- There are emerging technologies to help companies fulfill those expectations.
Chris Downer, Associate with XL Innovate shared that over 50% of the Insurtechs in the ecosystem are front-end services. Further, of the total, only 10% are exclusively focused on claims, garnering 5% of the total investment into Insurtech.
Naturally, many in our industry are trying to find ways to better onboard and engage with our customers.
If the most important moment between ourselves and our policyholders, how come the investment numbers are so low? Is it because we already have claims figured out?
When investing in and implementing in these front-end solutions, how much have we thought about how these tools will ultimately impact and/or interact with the claims experience (if at all)?
Our businesses must be built in such a way that it is seamless for our customers, from quote all the way to claims.
That means that for any customer-related innovation that is being put in place, they must not only solve a pain point along the value chain, but also somehow link to the claims process.
- Using telematics for both underwriting and sending your customer alerts to drive better? Then you must also use them for detecting accidents and proactively reaching out to them when they have one. The same goes for sensors and wearables (though we may not be in a place now or in the near future to track the precise health of our clients like we can for cars/homes…yet).
- Using chatbots and/or Voice to allow your customers to purchase and enquire on policies? Let them have these facilities to file and check status on a claim as well.
- Using AI and analytics to more quickly underwrite? Make sure you also do the same to assess and adjudicate claims more quickly.
Hopefully you get the point…
Whatever experience you are giving to your customers on the front end, will also be expected on the back end. They deserve nothing less from us.
Claims are the moment that we have to shine and either give our customers a reason to continue doing business with us or contemplate putting a bad review about us for all their friends, family and the rest of the internet to see.
I’ll get off my soapbox now.
Some startups helping the claims process
There were some great startups that presented throughout the event giving solutions to customers and Insurers for the overall claims process.
Insurance, especially Property & Casualty, has a high number of claims paid throughout the year. Further, there is also a high number of parties to be paid (policyholders, lenders, affiliates, etc) and the process is still mostly manual (by check).
Sipree gives the ‘power to the payee’, allowing for them (the payee) to choose the method in which they choose to be paid (PayPal, Bank Account, Google Wallet, Amazon Prime, Venmo). Identification and validation (including realtime) can be done through their platform.
This allows a claim handler to have verified information from a client (more robust than an ACH form) to enable them to authorize and send a payment once a claim is adjudicated.
This whole process not only makes it easier for the payee, but also reduces the speed of payment to payees from days/weeks to minutes.
Shift Technology is a SaaS solution using AI to detect Insurance fraud. Their proprietary AI algorithm is applied at the individual claim level to detect the most suspicious cases and flag them to a claims handler. These cases are given a fraud score, primary suspicion scenario and multiple fraud indicators to identify the specific fraud issues and provide direction to the claims handler of how to tackle the investigation.
The platform also has network analytic capabilities which identify suspicious relationships between entities in the insurers data, and detect and surface large organized fraud networks for investigation.
In an era where speed of payments is necessary and fraudsters are learning how to ‘game the system’, fraud detection services like Shift are of utmost importance.
Tractable uses AI to scan photos in order to come up with a repair estimate.
Photos are taken (starting with a picture of the VIN) and uploaded into the platform. The platform then identifies which photos are irrelevant and which belong to specific parts of the vehicle.
Then, the platform determines whether the parts of the vehicle that are undamaged, need repair or need replacing. Once this is done, a repair estimate is created based on everything collected and assessed.
In a total loss situation, this can be automatically detected with a sense of salvage value.
This is all done by AI and can help parts to be ordered sooner, body shops to work faster and cycle times to be reduced.
The next 3 had to go through a SharkTank style presentation with panelists Andrew Robinson of Oak HC/FT, Paul VanderMarck of FT Partners and Jay Poorman of StoneRidge Advisors. My hats off to these companies for going through this with such poise.
PLNAR is an augmented reality tech firm generating fully measured 3-D models of rooms to support the virtual claims process.
PLNAR tackles costs associated with sending adjusters onsite (sometimes multiple times) for interior home claims. The mobile app + cloud solution allows the homeowner, adjuster or inspector to capture the critical claim from the room or rooms affected using guided AR. All the room data is captured and summarized automatically, pictures are captured and annotated and a 3-D model is generated in real-time..
All of this data is synched real-time to the backend so the desk claims handler can review all the information they need to assess the claim.
They’ve been able to see a 40% reduction in cycle time from the adjusters using their software.
aclaimaint has built a resolution performance system that helps companies all phases of risk management relating to workplace safety, incident and claims management.
Their platform helps risk managers reduce administrative burden, automate the incident reporting process and and creates a simple and repeatable playbook to work through incidents.
Their solution can be used by businesses of any size, agents, brokers, carriers and TPAs.
Claimbot is a white labelled chabot platform that streamlines customer engagement to increase adoption and reduce contact center costs. The technology has currently been deployed for warranty, roadside, auto and property use cases.
Their bot can be configured on a carrier’s webpage, within their app as well as an option embedded in their call center to reroute the caller to use the chatbot if they so choose.
Their chatbot can be configured for multiple flows, from buying coverage to submitting or checking status on a claim. The information collected from Claimbot is integrated with a carrier’s existing systems such as their core policy admin system, CRM and claims system.
One of the biggest changes that will come out of the Insurtech movement is the shift of Insurance companies being collectors of premium and payers of claims to trusted partners to policyholders of detection, prevention and managing of risk.
This does not mean that we can lose sight on the most important part of our business and reason for our existence – paying claims.
Having a seamless claims process is a must for all Insurance organization.
Having an end-to-end seamless customer experience is the holy grail.
Stephen Goldstein is an experienced Insurance executive and Insurtech dealmaker with a core focus on growing revenue, launching go to market initiatives and advising industry leaders.
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