Mark Ireland, Product Owner, Royal London
Claim statistics are important for the protection industry as a whole. They’re a useful benchmark for providers, but they also give confidence to customers especially when there’s a perception that insurance companies don’t pay claims.
If you’re the person actually making the claim, of course you want your claim to be paid, but it’s also the actual experience and support you receive that could make all the difference to you personally in what could be a difficult time.
The protection industry has improved on its reporting of claims statistics over recent years through the help and support of the ABI. And more recently there’s been more of a focus on the additional support that a provider can give their claimants, such as our own Helping Hand. This is helping more than ever to change the perception of insurers and their approach to claims. But what about the future and what are we doing to go even further? At Royal London, we’ve a dedicated team continually looking at how we can improve our claims experience. So we asked Mark Ireland, who heads up the team, to answer a few questions to highlight some of the improvements we’re looking to make.
What is Royal London doing to continually improve its claims experience?
Well the first thing we’re doing is that each claimant now gets a dedicated point of contact – a claims assessor who’ll deal with their claim from beginning to end. This’ll help establish a relationship with the claimant, putting them at ease and giving them the support they need to help them through the whole process. We’ve also implemented the use of electronic signatures and are in the process of expanding this capability. This’ll help us streamline our claims process to make sure we pay claims as fast as possible.
And another way we’re improving the claims experience is that we’ll accept customer supplied evidence. This is where the customer has evidence from their GP or consultant that supports their claim. We’ll now use this rather than going to a medical professional for the information, saving both time and paperwork. Ultimately we’re looking to make it as easy as possible for someone to make a claim and to provide them with the appropriate support.
Are you looking to integrate more technology into the claims process?
Yes, looking ahead, that’s something that we’re really focusing on. Traditionally it’s always been paper and forms, but we’re investing in our technology so customers can choose how they want to notify us of a claim, such as online. We also want to reduce the need for customers to provide us with evidence. An example of this is that we’re looking to gather more information over the phone and work with a new technology partner so we can electronically verify a death against the national death register. This’ll remove the need for any paper in the process, so that when a claimant notifies us of a death, we can settle a large proportion of these claims straightaway.
Is Royal London doing anything extra to provide support at the claim stage?
We are and this has been a real area of focus. We understand it’s not only about paying the claim – it’s about what support we can give beyond the financial payout. Our Helping Hand service has been a huge support to many thousands of customers and their families over the years. It offers a wide range of services such as a second medical opinion for a critical illness diagnosis, counselling to help with grief or mental health issues, and legal advice when dealing with a complicated will or probate. And we’re currently investigating how we can make this service even better, such as some new services that’ll mean we can further tailor the support to a claimant’s particular needs as well as making the service more accessible.
And it’s not just about Helping Hand. We’re also looking for other ways to help our customers when they need it most. For example, when a loved one dies, we know it’s a very emotional time. People don’t always know what they need to do and in what order. So we’ve created a bereavement guide which gives practical step-by-step advice.
And what about your claims assessors, are you doing anything more to develop and help them that will ultimately improve the claims experience?
This is something that I truly believe in and I’m really passionate about. We need to keep investing in relevant training so that our claims assessors aren’t just empathetic, but so they can handle the different types of claims we get with care. We’re currently in discussion with a number of charities to provide bespoke training for our claims colleagues to give them the skills and techniques that’ll not only help them deal with these difficult conversations, but will help with how they cope themselves, which is obviously important for their own wellbeing.
These developments show how Royal London is investing in the claims journey and overall experience. Being the best that we can in this area also supports the protection industry to build trust with customers giving them peace of mind that when the time comes, they’ll get the support they expected when they first took out their plan.