In our market, just the word “claims” can generate a whole host of emotions, opinions, debates and ideas. For most of us, it is why we do what we do, ensuring clients and their families are looked after when tragedy strikes.
For those that perhaps do not give the end result much thought when arranging a protection plan, reviewing new business figures or renegotiating another reinsurance treaty, I would love there to be a change in mind set.
Focusing on positive claim outcomes gives us purpose and ensures we seek the right solutions for consumers. Not just the bottom line.
We have improved significantly in recent years when it comes to claims reporting and information but we have still got work to do. Data is important but storytelling is vital to bringing claims to life.
Aviva recently produced a fantastic claims report which had the full package: paid rates, trends, why claims are declined, case studies and information on the added services and support offered by their claims team. This level of information is so helpful to intermediaries and our clients. It illustrates the value of the plans we recommend.
Other insurers provide more than just the base claims data but Aviva’s report was market leading, and I hope we will see more like it next year.
One aspect to improve is promoting the claims journey and ensuring this experience is top notch. What is the process? What added services are available? How do claims teams ensure processing is hassle free for people coping with a bereavement or illness?
We need to know more than just the pay-out rates and causes of claims. Let’s get that information circulated to give us confidence claimants will be well looked after.
Intermediaries also need to know about the claims themselves. Unfortunately, the majority of claims are processed without any notification going to the intermediary.
The reasons insurers give vary – “intermediaries are not interested in knowing about claims”, “our systems cannot do that” – but we should be informed when a claim happens; at the very least so we avoid causing distress in contacting someone who has passed away or been seriously ill at the wrong time.
Intermediaries are often criticised for not contacting existing clients enough, yet, ridiculously, insurers do not always tell us when they die. This must change.
We also need to improve the data itself, as we still have a few anomalies as to what counts as a claim. The ABI’s recent recommendation that only new income protection claims be counted is welcomed. But we need to ensure individual income protection claims remain to be published at firm level. The jury is out as to whether amalgamating data with group statistics is beneficial.
To help improve claims transparency further, the Protection Distributors Group is undertaking an insurer survey on the subject. We hope our findings will instigate some action on communications and reporting to benefit our market and, most importantly, our claimants.
Emma Thomson is chair of the Protection Distributors Group