VCA Software

Delivering the Best Insurance Claims Services

How good is your claims process? The claims process is a make-or-break moment in the insurance company-customer relationship. Claims benchmarks and key performance indicators (KPIs) give you a way to rate your process, but numbers only paint an accurate picture if you know how to interpret them.

Here is the latest research on what it takes to deliver the best insurance claims services. You will learn why four claims KPIs – time to settlement, the retention rate after a claim, the claim error rate and the cost per claim – all boil down to claimant satisfaction and an efficient, transparent claims process.

Policyholder Churn Following Claims

When policyholders complain, they’re usually complaining about how claims are handled. That’s the takeaway of a Value Penguin analysis of complaint data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. When looking at complaints for all insurers, 68% of complaints were about claims handling.

Many of those claimants will leave. Accenture found that 83% of claimants who were dissatisfied with the way a claim was handled or settled had either already switched insurers or were planning to do so.

What Matters to Claimants?

In retail, it’s sometimes said that the customer is always right. Insurance is more complicated. You can’t just give the claimant whatever they want. You need to figure out exactly what the loss is and what coverage applies. That’s the entire purpose of the claims process. At the same time, if you don’t keep the claimant happy, you’ll probably lose a customer.

McKinsey & Company did research to find out what drives claimant satisfaction, and they came up with five answers:

  • Employee courtesy
  • Ease of communication
  • Employee knowledge and professionalism
  • Transparency and ease of process
  • Speed of claim settlement

Speed Is Important – But Communication Is More Important

Out of the five elements that McKinsey identified, it’s easy to focus on speed of claim settlement. Speed is important. It’s also easy to measure. As a result, time to settlement is probably one of your more important KPIs.

But what speed should you be aiming for? How fast does the process need to be to keep claimants happy? Well, it depends.

The J.D. Power 2018 U.S. Property Claims Satisfaction Study found that satisfaction is driven by good communication, not speed. The time needed to settle can vary, but good communication can help manage expectations. When claims took longer than average, claimants still expressed above-average time-to-settle satisfaction as long as the time frame was managed. Conversely, even when claims were settled quickly, claimants expressed below-average time-to-settle satisfaction if insurers missed time expectations.

If you send a letter by mail, you expect it to take at least a couple of days. If you send an email, you expect it to arrive instantly. Expectations are everything, and communication helps you manage expectations.

Managing Expectations and Putting the Claimant at Ease

During the FNOL intake, you need to put the claimant at ease. The J.D. Power Auto Claims Satisfaction Study shows that five things can help accomplish this: not putting the customer on hold, explaining coverage, explaining the claims process, providing services and explaining the next steps with clear timelines.

This last action is the most important. When you explain the next steps with clear timelines, the policyholder is 3.6 times more likely to feel at ease. Explaining the claims process makes them 2.4 times more likely to feel at ease, and explaining coverage makes them 2.2 times more likely to feel at ease.

Your policyholders aren’t insurance claims experts. They need everything explained to them. If you can do that, you can get the claim off to a good start. From there, if you can continue to keep the lines of communication open and meet expectations, you can deliver a positive claims experience. And that will impact your other claims benchmarks and KPIs.

Claimant Satisfaction and KPIs

Time to settlement is only one KPI. Others might include your retention rate after a claim, the cost per claim and the claim error rate.

We’ve already seen that by improving communication, you can improve satisfaction. That will have a direct impact on the retention rate. But what about cost per claim and claim error rate? They’re connected, too.

A lack of communication may contribute to errors. For example, a claimant might not disclose information because they don’t realize it matters or because they don’t trust the claim handler, resulting in missed details and errors. Poor communication may also increase the cost of the claim if the process drags or if the claimant feels they need to challenge the settlement or even hire a lawyer.

A good claims process is transparent and efficient. The claimant and the claims handler are in communication, and they both know what the other expects. Updates happen automatically, and the claim progresses on schedule. When that happens, the claims KPIs fall into place.

Are you delivering the best insurance claims services? Is your claims process as efficient and transparent as it should be?

If your claims benchmarks and KPIs aren’t meeting expectations, it may be time to update your claims management platform so you can enable file handlers to work smarter. When you free them up from mundane tasks, they’ll have more time to focus on the human side of the claims process.

VCA Software (formerly Virtual Claims Adjuster) is setting a new standard for claims management technology. Download our Buying Guide and Request A Demo to find out what’s possible.