The recent l Love Claims (ILC) Home and Property Conference brought together insurers, supply chain specialists and contractors, claims services TPAs, technology partners, professional advisors and discussed industry challenges and solutions.
Whilst this was a UK Home Claims event the challenges and findings are applicable to auto claims and other markets in Europe, The Americas and Asia Pacific.
It was a reminder to technology partners that digital transformation can only be as good as the ability of the companies involved to plan, direct, organise and control effectively. If the vision, goals, leadership, strategies, resourcing, people, and culture are wrong then technology will be of no help.
Home Claims Challenges are interlinked and include:
- Covid on staff, mobility, and economic impacts
- Supply chain restraints and delays internationally and nationally
- Materials and components shortages and backlogs
- Price inflation on goods, materials, and labour
- Large projects still playing catch-up
- Climate change, severe weather damage and claims resilience
- That specific UK issue- Brexit
The CEO of the Gelder Group (Insurance Repair and Renovation & Construction) , Steve Gelder, painted a picture of how these factors interlink and impact contractors, insurers, policy holders.
Take tradespeople who are leaving contractors and specialists to take advantage of increase labour rate offered elsewhere. They can get more money elsewhere and it is so much harder to retain vital skilled people. Sub-contractors are just about coping but squeezed by labour and materials price inflation, difficulties making cash as debtor days extend and more money tied up in extended work-in-progress (WIP). Many are reducing their insurance exposure making matters worse for home claims.
Schedules of Rates- always more dynamic in the UK compared to the USA- are obsolete as price inflation rockets and instability will extend into 2022. Cost-plus pricing becomes a norm and claims price inflation is rampant.
Gelder has set a policy to deal with those companies his people can respect, like and trust. New customer or supplier? Think again. That has an enormous impact for the insurer’s supply chain team.
Gelder had a dramatic image to share- the number of touchpoints for a property claim which seem to have multiplied and create confusion, delays, and extra cost. Pity the poor Contract Manager he said- the worse job in property restoration and repair.
Gelder asked insurers to: -
- Reduce the number of people managing each claim
- Dynamically update schedule of rates
- Deal in fact (reliable data)
- Improve payments timing
With flooding hitting UK regions with increasing frequency Neale Vickery from Corroventa (large fire and flood restoration company) made some telling points about drying flooded properties. Dryers left in place for too long because the ones ordered were wrong for the job and nobody was managing the claim. Result- waste in time and cost. Unhappy customer and all a result of poor collaboration and communication and not leveraging the experts.
Angela Kelly, Director Operational Delivery at Sedgwick, gave one simple home claim example where they dealt with a claim using 4 major suppliers and many sub-contractors each with different SLAs, took 53 elapsed days and six different onsite inspections to settle and in total (with supply chain) generated a 789KG carbon footprint. That is before transforming the process.
In the construction industry a rule of thumb is that 30% of costs are caused by waste materials and time and Kelly emphasised this waste must be reduced. Technology can help once the whole process is better planned, organised and managed though accurate data.
Then are ESG challenges and opportunities in the very week that COP26 was focussed on keeping temperature change as near to 1.5 degrees as possible and achieving Net-Zero. How do these affect the whole of Home Claims?
Sedgwick’s Kelly noted the 11.850 tons of CO2 generated in its home claims operations and plans to significantly reduce this. William Sherwin from DLG presented the comprehensive strategies and execution right into its own supplier network for an industry-wide approach. Some suppliers worry about being “piggy-in-the-middle” with other insurers. Pressured to reduce their own carbon footprints (80% of these being onsite) whilst at the same time pressured to reduce costs.
There is a suspicion that some insurers will apply headline positive minor change whilst relying on the supply chain to deliver the actual change.
It all comes back to the challenges listed at the beginning of this article. Big change is planned e.g., banning gas boilers in the UK housing stock. That requires a huge investment in installation and maintenance of heat pumps and/or hydrogen powered boilers. Skills training and new capital investment whilst there is still uncertainly as to the ability to overcome the current limitations of these heating technologies.
Who will bear the brunt of he cost? Government, consumers, the supply chain. What role will insurers play?
Jeremy Hyams CEO of Claims Consortium Group was optimistic about the role of technology. Earlier Gary Barker Head of Claims at insurer The AA discussed these challenges from his own point of view having partnered with and collaborated with Synergy Cloud to deploy a new home claims platform.
Starting with a clean slate meant they could jointly avoid the constraints of legacy systems and leverage low-code no code to optimise claims workflows and processes. Both have the detailed knowledge of claims, repair and replacement and supply chain orchestration. Both could start with what the policy holder, claims teams and supply chain actually need rather than just make current processes more efficient. But again, it needed that in depth and detailed assessment of what is required now and in the longer-term and why.
Whilst no-code/low-code can deliver results quickly (deployments in weeks often offered) you still must know what it is you need to implement and why. That can take far longer, or you risk the classic “lipstick on a pig” outcome.
Reducing the number of touchpoints in any claim is a management issue whilst claims platforms will empower triage, collaboration, and communication. From eNOL and self-service FNOL speeding up the initial claims validation and applying rules and/or AI to route claims to the right claims adjusters, complex claims team members and supply chain partners helps reduce lead-times and costs.
The cost and inflation issues examined above must be addressed so that reserving starts from FNOL and is constantly improved utilising the professional parties on the front line and dynamically updated schedules of rates. Under-reserving is a bane of the industry.
Technology can enhance triage, collaboration, communication between all the parties involved from customer to specialist professional. Empowering the contract manager, the claims adjuster, the onsite professionals to allow the full benefits to be gained from reducing touch-points, onsite visits and dealing in facts (data) rather than subjective opinion wherever possible.
One recent and very recent example from Zurich highlights this.
“In Potters Bar, Hertfordshire, a light industrial factory which was harbouring an illegal cannabis farm, caught fire and caused considerable damage to both the unit itself and our policyholder’s unit next to it. We were instructed by the customer to deal with the various aspects of the loss. Instead of a costly and lengthy site visit, involving multiple parties and the expenses associated with this, a drone and a single operator were deployed to take high-definition videos, images and carry-out 3D modelling of the extent of the damage. We were able to review and assess the claim quickly - at a cost of £1.5 million. The customer was provided with a fast response and interim payments in just a few days, as we were able to review the 3D model to ascertain the potential cost of repairs and materials required. This had a dramatic effect on the policyholder’s business. The claim was settled on a cash basis at the request of the insured, allowing them to reinstate in a method suitable to them in their own chosen time frame. If drones hadn't been deployed, the previous method to review and assess claims like these would have required the loss adjuster to visit the site and subsequent visits may have also been required to take additional photos or our claims team/broker may have needed to attend themselves to verify information. The single drone and operator is outperforming the traditional method, by mitigating the necessity for multiple car trips and cutting down on the harmful greenhouse gasses released into the atmosphere.”
Home claims range from simple accidental damage (A&D) to complex flood, fire, and subsidence claims with their long tails and third-parties impacted. Any digital claims platform must cope with all of these and blend together the optimal mix of automation and human engagement which will vary claim by claim, peril by peril.
Dealing in facts requires the right data and Hyams described actual examples that insurers and contractors can leverage.
ICEYE offers global coverage of flooding, fire and earthquake as its satellites record images in the dark, through cloud and rain, dust storms and all. Within 2 hours any place on Earth can be analysed down to intensely granular detail validating claims damage and loss.
Integrating disparate data sources into a claims platform is vital and ICEYE’s partnership with McKenzie Intelligence Services Ltd makes this practical with active flood hazard data before, during and after large-scale flood events, including information on flood depth at individual building levels across affected areas.
Hyams introduced FloodFlash and its parametric commercial flood insurance product that delivers payments fast to those impacted by water ingress. Customers can choose the parameters that trigger payment like depth of water and premium. FloodFlash installs a flood sensor and the second the water levels hit the chosen level the payment is initiated.
The final example Hyams introduced was WhenFresh a UK property data provider.
“The key to it all is data. By providing flexible access to the best possible breadth and depth of accurate, up-to-date, verified data, WhenFresh supplies many of the UK’s leading Insurers with products and services for home insurance prefill and other applications to improve customer acquisition/conversion, risk management, pricing accuracy and claims management/validation.
WhenFresh brings together over 200 private and public data sources – including datasets from Zoopla, Prime Location, uSwitch & Money.co.uk for example, via our partnership with ZPG (Zoopla Property Group) and a vast array of Risk and Perils data, via its partnership with CLS – to form a “one-stop shop” for the Insurance sector.”
Once an insurer and supply chain partner have the right vision, goal, and strategy they can leverage these technologies and decide the best choice for them.
Another exhibitor at ILC was international company CoreLogic which positions itself as a Property and Home Ecosystem technology partner delivering value to banks, mortgage providers and insurers.
CoreLogic already has a wealth of data and its platform’s single data model makes it practical to integrate data from suppliers, external data sources and insurers themselves. Steve Gelder emphasised the vital need to deal in facts rather than anecdotal evidence making a single data model extremely attractive.
Integration is key and whilst every technology partner talks the talk many do not have the resources and commitment to implement the resilient cross-industry platform. It is far more than having an API architecture. Remember the complicated touchpoints that Steve Gelder mentioned above. Integration is complex and as every combination of software and data usually results in scripting it makes integration demanding and resource hungry.
Check out your technology partners capabilities and stamina. CoreLogic has it in in full and has the low-code flexibility to make constant innovation and customisation a practical realist. So does Synergy Cloud showing there is more than one way to achieve transformation and innovation goals. Some of the digital platforms fall short so as always Caveat Emptor is necessary and more on that below.
I caught up with Brian Ford who focusses on digital transformation and in the UK resells the SLVRCLD solution that automates home contents replacement and who were at ILC. We both have sympathy for insurer CEOs who are driven by quarterly reporting, shareholder scrutiny and short-term results.
When many technology partners still charging eye-watering license fees, require systems integrators to implement new systems and upgrades and often enforce capital costs there is a resistance to yet another CAPEX request.
Whilst many bemoan the length of time it takes for many insurers to make decisions and implement innovative products you can see why it is so easy to leave things to later.
Many technology partners require no Capex, no upfront fees and deliver production level platforms that deliver the customised workflows and processes that are needed to address the industry challenges described above. Insurers, brokers, and MGAs can cancel without punitive penalty charges whilst both they and the technology partner having “skin in the game” it is more likely they will have scoped and built the solution that is fully scalable, resilient and with iterative low-code and/or no-code capable to deliver continuous innovation.
Reading between the lines that is why The AA Insurance chose Synergy Cloud rather than the core platform provider that delivered its transformation and motor claims a few years back.
The ability to implement transformation strategies that the insurer has been able to plan and scope effectively and specific innovation is made practical with technology partners that can deliver what is needed now e.g., home claims eFNOL, self-serve FNOL and claim validation, estimation and triage at an incremental cost that delivers an ROI in the first year.
The CEO and Claims Team can then extend the functionality across the whole claims journey up to settlement, payment, recovery with the confidence they have proven the value, competitive differentiation, and ability to deploy with their partner. And the ability to integrate the required point software and platforms as no one technology partner has everything. There are always gaps somewhere.
That certainly requires the three key factors that Steve Gelder mentioned when deciding which technology partners and combinations of partners to work with.
The UK’s 2007 summer floods — a once-a-century event — caused £1.5bn of damage to homes. About 3m homes in England are at risk of flooding; assuming weather patterns persist, an additional 1.2m UK properties may join that tally by 2050, reckons Ambiental Risk Analytics. The consultancy, spun out of Cambridge university, is among those using advances in mapping and data to tackle the issue. The cost of flooded homes ripples out to insurers