The Hartford Financial Serv-ices Group (Hartford, $172 billion in assets) is piloting a program that offers its homeowners policyholders the option of receiving claim settlements in the form of a stored value Visa card.
After a claimant receives the Visa card, according to Tony Ruszala, director, claims financial, The Hartford, its value is secured until the claimant provides security information for the card's activation by calling a 24-hour 800 number. "This payment method is much more secure than a check," says Ruszala. "If the card is stolen you can instantly block payment on it. That process is a little more rigorous with a check."
According to Ruszala, the Visa method of payment disbursement was rolled out in 90 days andinvolved a partnership with Citibank, in addition to the collaboration of a team composed of members of the personal lines, legal and regulatory departments within The Hartford. Through a secure Web site, The Hartford can load payments in order to provide next-day availability of funds for claimants receiving subsequent payments and already possessing The Hartford's Visa stored value card. Claimants are sent monthly statements documenting purchases made with the card.
The Hartford is currently using the Visa system in its Tampa, San Antonio and Phoenix claim centers with plans to roll out to its Farmington, CT center, thus adding availability to a few more states. The Hartford plans to have the disbursement method rolled out to three other claims centers, spreading the option's availability nationwide, by the end of this year.
Customer feedback has been positive, Ruszala says. "In a survey given to claimants opting for the Visa card, 85 to 90 percent of our clients are either extremely or very satisfied."