How the Insurance Sector is riding the new technology wave
By Malcolm Harvey
Have you ever found yourself at a local pub, wine bar, or drinks party, where the conversation turns to insurance claims? You will invariably hear nightmare stories of how the insurance companies are far too quick to take your premiums, and far too slow in paying out.
Even the insurance industry’s own regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority has called for changes in the way claims are dealt with. They believe that insurance is becoming far too commoditised and the public should be offered differing levels of claims assistance. If you opt for the cheapest product from an aggregator website, do not expect too much in terms of claim support. You have bought on price, not quality. You may think that the Loss Adjuster sent by your insurance company is there simply to try and dismiss your claim or reduce it, but that is no longer true. The entire Insurance industry desperately wants to improve the customer journey but is finding it hard to cope with the sheer volume of claims made each year.
In 2015 there were over four million property claims made in the UK and that number is rising year on year. Catastrophic events, such as the flooding in Cumbria, are now almost an annual event and stretching the insurance industry to breaking point. Following an incident, traditionally it can take the insurance company several weeks to get an Adjuster to visit the scene of the claim. Recognising the prolonged and unnecessary anxiety often experienced by distressed homeowners and businesses, the industry started to explore ways of expediting the process via the introduction of new technology. A good example is QlaimsTech Ltd., a company which in this day of “app-savvy” consumers, who are time poor and want instant assistance, source a live video streaming App, whereby the insurance company can be in touch with the customer within minutes of reporting the loss.
The insurer sends the claimant a one-off and secure SMS message from which they download the Direct DropIn App converting their smart phone into a live video streaming camera. Utilising the GPRS functionality, the insurer/loss adjuster can then guide the claimant through a comprehensive survey of damages, secure in the knowledge that the footage taken is in the insured property. For those customers who are vulnerable or infirm or simply cannot download an App, there will be an established national network of Qlaim Responders on call to visit a site. These are independent contractors who work on an hourly, “gig-economy” basis. Think Deliveroo or Uber, but for insurance claims. Responders are drawn from many differing backgrounds: graduates, mothers at home, retired professionals… Responders can be with the claimant within two hours of reporting the loss and capture footage of the damages on their smart phones or tablets.
Drone pilots are “eyes in the sky” which can fly over flooded areas, survey damage to roofs, which formerly would require the erection of scaffolding…
A further technological advance being utilised by companies like QlaimsTech Ltd is the use of drones. Drone pilots are “eyes in the sky” which can fly over flooded areas, survey damage to roofs (which formerly would require the erection of scaffolding), and even negotiate the internals of a damaged building to give insurers an immediate idea of the extent of the claim. This way loss reparation is quicker and more economical for both customers and insurers. This technology shaves days, even weeks off the first notification of loss and allows the claim to get underway.
What’s the next big challenge for the consumer? Dealing with the insurance company’s Loss Adjuster. Not everyone is good at negotiating, especially with a trained professional. Very few people have the time to research costs, compile a detailed claim and negotiate its settlement. To create a level playing field for the public, there is a full claims concierge service offered by the same company. How it works: If the claim is likely to be complicated, stressful and disruptive, the customer is allocated their own Chartered Loss Adjuster, someone of similar calibre to the insurance company’s representative, to project-manage the claim to successful settlement on their behalf. There is no cost, provided they have paid the Qlaims insurance premium to their broker or insurer at the time of inception or renewal. The customer’s own Loss Adjuster provides on-site assistance throughout the course of the claim, values all the losses, handles all communication with Insurers and negotiates for the best possible outcome under the terms of the customer’s policy.
Finally, the biggest consumer gripe about the insurance claim making process is lack of communication resulting in frustration. Evidence shows that not knowing what’s going on with your claim is infinitely worse than thinking you are being short-changed. Insurers have traditionally not been the best at corresponding, but that is all changing. For the first time ever in UK insurance, the progress of the claim will be available to the customer 24/7 via an App on your phone or your desktop which will connect with the secure Qlaims customer portal. As mentioned earlier, QlaimsTech uses their App to get their network of Responders to claims, very much in the same way that Uber does with their drivers.
Go back to that local pub, wine bar, or drinks party in five years’ time and the talk may well be of whose insurance company got their drone on site first, who settled the claim the quickest, and who had the most helpful Concierge.
One day all claims will handled this way.