A debate has been held involving Rob Smale (Claims Director for Ageas), Jim Pittman (Managing Director for Stream Claims Services) and Steven Richford (MD for Richfords Fire & Flood).
There was general consensus across these three viewpoints that smart technology could be used in the near future to carry out early assessments of smaller claims. However, there is a concern that using the technology much further than this could adversely affect the essential human-to-human contact that is necessary when dealing with disasters.
Steven Richford said: “smart technology is going ahead at quite a pace, but the claims process is a human process and therefore what the technology may be able to do is to help with communication issues, but I do not think it is going to revolutionise the human interaction.”
Jim Pittman said: “There is no doubt in my mind that the smart technology will enable more ‘self-serve’ and smaller claims. The challenge is for insurers to respond with the validation tools to enable that to happen. On larger claims, it is about the communication and the human element.”
Jim Pittman continued with a note of caution: “The real challenge is the speed of response because a customer can send a ‘Whatsapp’ message immediately and tell if you have read it. They then expect a fast response. Thus, our challenge is; how can you manage that expectation when it becomes 24/7?”
Rob Smale was keen to make sure that processes are working properly before being translated onto smart technology: “I think you have to be careful as an insurer not to imagine that the application of smart technology is going to cure a damaged or broken process. So, the first thing is to make sure you have optimised the process without smart technology and then see where the opportunities are to improve an already optimised process.”
The debate also covered the viewpoint of the customer. Rob Smale recalled how the industry got it wrong when it thought customers wanted to contact them through large call centres: “I think, it is very important to make sure that you are not driving customers down a particular route because you have invested in some particular kind of amazing technology. You still have to answer the phone or a written letter with the same efficiency and preciseness.”
“We have all seen, particularly when call-centre technology came into the industry, how we all suddenly decided that customer service would be so much better if customers could ring these great big call centres. But customers didn’t like it and frequently had to subvert the process to get the answer they wanted.”
Steven Richford pointed out that the technology could help with the damage restoration process: “The thing we haven’t mentioned is the use of smart technology for connecting everything to drying technology. So, the drying process can be monitored remotely at low cost and on every job rather than having the futility of somebody driving 50 miles or a 100 miles to go and stick a meter in the wall when, instead, that data can just flow back through the internet.”
We are now asking for the industry and individuals to join in the conversation to help forge the future path of claims smart-technology. Take part by following the link to the project page on www.richfords.com or go to the discussion on Richfords’ Linkedin page.