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The Impact of COVID-19 on insurance operations and workflow

Stephen J. Messina, Sr. Vice President Operations, Bankers Insurance Group

Stephen J. Messina, Sr. Vice President Operations, Bankers Insurance Group

If necessity is the mother of invention, then COVID – 19 has become the mother of necessity! When COVID-19 presented in the US in late winter most companies were simply focused on deploying their workforces and attempting to operate remotely effectively. While converting to a remote environment provided initial operational challenges, the real challenges have become the litany of everchanging guidelines, recommendations, regulations, customer needs, and concerns for employee safety.

Virtually every aspect of pre-COVID life has been impacted requiring individuals and business to alter even their most basic activities. Insurance, albeit an essential service was also faced with a variety of challenges.

COVID-19 continue to shed light on many of the antiquated high touch processes plaquing the P&C industry. In the face of the pandemic, consumers immediately began changing their behaviors and expectations. Access to customers homes for UW inspections and claims estimating became challenging as customers were uneasy allowing complete strangers into their homes; mask or no mask. Fortunately, as luck would have it Bankers had partnered with a full service SMS messaging platform allowing for the exchange of text, pictures, using tht technology to adopt a self-inspection process. While traction around the self-inspection process continues to increase, there are challenges educating consumers on the option and processes as well as generational gaps around technology usage.

The highest touch process within the P&C industry is arguably the property claims process which traditionally requires an in-person inspection to estimate the damage. While drones have been useful in documenting the exterior of a structure, the ongoing challenge remains how to capture interior damage in a comprehensive manner which in turn can be converted to an estimate. As a result, remote adjusting solutions with built in measuring technology have come to the forefront. As with all technological solutions, there will be an education curve for all users. In addition to educating users, there will exist a steep consumer use curve, though likely flattened somewhat by the surge and adaption of a wide range of digital services which have experienced exponential growth since the onset of COVID-19.

Virtual inspection tools require differing skill sets to patiently guide customers via a virtual interface to through the inspection process. The actual estimator will be writing estimates without the benefit of having seen the damage firsthand, notes, and sketches. Instead, the adjuster will be relying on photos, video, and measurements provided by the customer via the virtual inspection tool.

Another pain point which surfaced for small carriers involved hardcopy mail and issuing payments. While OCR and electronic payments have been around for decades, the challenges associated with integrating those solutions with legacy technology coupled with engaging consumers to opt in and trusting the process, especially with respect to electronic payments has resulted in significantly less E Payments than anticipates. Another pain point for property carriers limiting E Payments is the sheer volume of multiparty payments; specifically, those including lienholders. Of late, I’ve been encouraged by discussion with a few of the larger banks regarding their proposed solutions for clearing multiparty E payments.

While COVID-19 caused us to take drastic measures it simultaneously prompted us to reevaluate our customer journey maps and prioritize solutions designed to improve the customer experience, comply with current guidelines focusing on safety for all involved.

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