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For property and casualty (P&C) insurers, claims related to natural disasters are high stakes — and getting higher.

Customer frustration during catastrophe-related claims is a major cause of attrition due to factors such as complicated processes and communication that is often disrupted by outages and downed power lines. Now the rising number of catastrophes around the globe is adding further pressure to claims processes. By retooling their operations to deliver empathy, transparency and rapid responses, P&C insurers can convert catastrophe claims into positive customer experiences that boost retention.

Catastrophe-related claims often stress insurers’ resources. Heavy claims volumes drive cycle times higher and delay settlements. As a result, customer satisfaction drops precipitously during catastrophe claims. Worse, the dissatisfaction leads to customer churn: Only 12% of frustrated customers say they will stay with their insurance companies.

Digital capabilities such as process automation can generate bottom-line benefits. For example, our work with a major US carrier to better manage the seasonality of catastrophic events improved the carrier’s claims processing efficiency by 30% and reduced annual operating costs by $300,000.

Three steps to create a seamless claims experience

New technologies are also reinventing the claims experience. By taking the following steps to enable empathic, fast response for catastrophe claims, insurers can ensure positive experiences that lead to high lifetime customer value:

1.    Adopt communications, including videos, that are empathic and personalized.

Online channels are evolving into a key platform for insurers’ heightened focus on empathy. Because video can readily scale, delivering empathic videos and video chat is becoming an important capability.

The upside for customers is substantial as insurers add personalized, interactive videos to catastrophe response plans. Insurers can proactively lend a helping hand to impacted customers, using the videos to provide details on policy coverage and even tips for risk mitigation — such as securing windows and outdoor furniture — as customers prepare for weather-related catastrophes. Videos can also include the location of agents who are able to assist with claims, or to buses for transportation to claims registration centers.

A leading property insurance provider we support is exploring video’s potential to improve the customer experience. Because the insurer sells its products through banks, its first interaction with policyholders is often when they file catastrophe claims — and its contact center and claims team are overwhelmed. Through personalized interactive videos, the insurer plans to introduce new ways for customers to learn about the company, and to educate them on its tools and mobile app. Metrics for the initiative include net promoter score and number of contact center calls.

2.    Focus on cross-channel communication.

Communication is critical during natural disasters, when network coverage and phone connectivity may be spotty. With real-time communications technologies — think co-browsing, video chat and in-app messaging — customer service reps are able to view claims information across all channels and ensure smooth transitions that prevent loss of customer context.

While the use of multi-channel communications is common among P&C insurers, most still fall short of a unified customer experience. For example, many carriers offer contact through mobile apps and call centers, but data is often lost as communications crosse channels. It’s a gap that grows even wider during post-disaster claims surges. Unified cross-channel communication is a win-win for carriers, offering customers a better claims experience and helping to alleviate the strain on call centers.

3.    Provide tools that give customers a sense of control.

Customers filing catastrophe-related claims are often under pressure as they take stock of their losses. Self-service tools help reduce the stress by enabling easier navigation of the claims process. Many P&C insurers have invested in digital first-notice-of-loss (FNOL) capabilities, but most haven’t embedded intelligence in them to help triage claims handling. For example, few have applied artificial intelligence or analytics to analyze FNOL input, or to automatically sort simple property claims for broken windows or roof damage from more complex claims.

Intelligent tools are key to retaining young consumers accustomed to technology-enabled convenience and control. Bringing that same experience to catastrophe claims requires insurers to advance to the next level, starting with mobile apps that assist customers through the entire claims process, from FNOL and sharing video for remote inspections to submitting forms and tracking claim progress. It also means exploring new services such as remote inspections via drones that enable adjusters to assess damage remotely. The drones and aerial imagery not only comply with social distancing but also often complete inspections more quickly.

For more information about empowering insurance customers through digital claims, visit the Insurance section of our website or contact us.