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Waiting on the Customer

Crafting a cost-effective customer-centric claims environment takes a calibrated combination of high-tech and high-touch solutions.

Claims: The Moment Of Truth for Insurers

Insurers and their customers share an interest in avoiding claim events. However, when claims are inevitably made, those interests may seem to diverge. Customers naturally want insurers to make good on their promise - why else does insurance exist? But insurers reasonably want to minimize their losses - otherwise, how can the business succeed? Both points of view are compelling, but in the claims situation, as elsewhere in business, the customer - at least the honest customer - is always right.

The claim event is the insurer's moment of truth; whatever impression an insurer makes in creating the sale, administering the policy and responding to a customer's needs before a claim, it is how the insurer responds to the claim itself that defines the company in the consumer's eyes. Thus, the reorientation of the insurance industry from product and line-of-business orientation to customer-centricity is nowhere more important than in claims management.

The occasion of a claim is often painful and always inconvenient to the policy-holder. And the management of claims by insurers is a complex process with multiple opportunities for error and delay. Creating a customer-centric claims environment requires putting in place all the human, procedural and technological components to reduce errors and delays to a minimum, and providing customers with a resolution that is not only speedy, of high-quality and fair, but as pleasant as possible under the circumstances.

As important as the human and process factors are, it is technology that can drive the greatest leaps in creating a customer-centric claims environment. Document imaging and workflow technologies can go a long way to reduce the slow and error-prone nature of paper-driven processes; decision-support and business-rules technologies can ensure that the right decisions are made, often automatically; data warehousing, information integrity, and security-related technologies can foster the rapid and consistent dissemination of information to concerned parties; and a variety of Web-based and wireless technologies can connect customers, agents, claims adjusters, contact center representatives, repair shops, healthcare providers and other partners in a host of vital transactions and communications essential to the speedy resolution of claims.

In the following pages, the editors of Insurance & Technology invite you to read about the customer-facing claims strategies recommended by leading commentators in the industry, as well as those put into practice by leading insurers on the front lines of customer claims contact.

Anthony O'Donnell has covered technology in the insurance industry since 2000, when he joined the editorial staff of Insurance & Technology. As an editor and reporter for I&T and the InformationWeek Financial Services of TechWeb he has written on all areas of information ... View Full Bio

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