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5 easy ways to improve policyholder satisfaction during property claims
Posted by Sedgwick’s temporary housing division on
Almost 6% of homeowners filed a property claim during 2017, per ISO research. This is consistent with historical data for property claims nationwide. While only a small percentage of homeowners may experience a loss in a given year, property loss is unforgettable. The purpose of property insurance is to minimize the financial damage caused during a property loss. Financial protection, however, is not the only role insurance companies have. After a property loss occurs, homeowners typically notify the insurance company before doing anything else. This gives claim reps the unique role of setting the tone for the entire claims process. Below, we have identified five easy ways for property adjusters to improve policyholder satisfaction during a claim.
1. Manage expectations from the FNOL
When a distressed policyholder initiates their first notice of loss (FNOL), the claims representative receiving the notice has an opportunity to reassure the homeowner that the insurance company has their best interest in mind. In fact, J.D. Power recently completed a 2019 U.S. Property Claims Satisfaction Survey. This survey found that the three components of the claims process with the highest importance weights in overall satisfaction metrics are among those rated the lowest by claimants. These include the following:
Fairness of the claim settlement
How well claimants were kept informed on claim progress
Time to settle the claim
Each of these components of the claims process point to communication. If a representative gives an honest and well-communicated story of how claim settlements are determined, then this step will lead to an improvement in policyholder satisfaction. In a similar manner, claimants want to know clear expectations for updates related to the progress on the claim. Policyholders also want to have a clear idea of the time expected for the claim to settle. Policyholders do not have unrealistic expectations, but they do desire clearly defined expectations around each of these components. This survey commends the fact that by clearly defining expectations insurers can increase policyholder satisfaction.
2. Relieve stress by managing emotions
Property claims involve an exercise in the management of emotions. This can be challenging for claims professionals as they attempt to remain level-headed during communication with emotional policyholders. Emotions play a role in most communications between policyholders and claim reps. Call after call from distressed insureds can be draining for claim reps and can lead to diminishing results. Dr. Raymond Shelton is a Fellow and Director of Professional Development with the National Center for Crisis Management, American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress. His training and years of experience make him a competent expert on managing stress in various contexts. Dr. Shelton offers tips to help claims staff respond appropriately in difficult situations with distressed individuals. The below tips are simple steps that claim reps can take in order to ensure they are ready to work with distressed individuals. These tips are designed in an effort to improve customer satisfaction. Click here for additional details on these tips.
Listen to Your Body
Have the Strength to Let Go
Avoid Rigid, Narrow Thinking
Maintain a Life Beyond the Job
Stop Biting the Hooks
Take the Time to Laugh
Set Expectations based in Reality
3. Streamline and simplify
Policyholder satisfaction results from a combination of factors. The charts below lists various predictors of customer satisfaction in the property claims process and the impact on customer satisfaction and business growth. To improve policyholder satisfaction an insurer cannot simply focus on one or two components of the claims process and expect to improve results. Instead, claim representatives must implement these predictors into their everyday processes. Most of the predictors below represent either a relationship or a competence factor.
Claim representatives must simplify and streamline their activities in order to maximize their focus on these relationship and competence factors in an effort to influence and improve policyholder satisfaction. Therefore, insurers should find ways to maximize their communication with claimants without increasing the amount of time necessary to communicate.
As noted above, the most important predictor of satisfaction is whether the policyholder believes that the insurance company is acting in their best interest. Simple, concise and wisely crafted language can help reassure policyholders that the claim rep and the insurance company have their best interest in mind. These simple steps can lead to a significant improvement in policyholder satisfaction.
4. Take advantage of technology
As mentioned above, technology provides accurate and instantaneous information that can significantly improve policyholder satisfaction. For example, identifying policyholders as they call the insurer based on their phone number is an easy way for the claim rep to have the policyholder information available as soon as the conversation begins. Technology can also integrate with concierge services, temporary housing companies, preferred vendors and contractors in an effort to enhance communication and services.
Farmers Insurance is one insurer working to make improvements in their use of technology. This Farmers Insurance Article shows how Farmers Insurance is using virtual reality simulations to train claim representatives. The reality is that very few insurers have launched effective personalized, real-time digital or mobile services tailored to improve policyholder satisfaction. Insurers that effectively utilize technology in the claim handling process will certainly be able to improve their policyholder satisfaction.
5. Be flexible
While technology and automation can enhance policyholder satisfaction, claim reps must also learn flexibility. Policyholders have different personalities, which require different responses. In other words, claim representatives must be willing to change their approach depending on previous experiences with individual policyholders. If a customer prefers a phone call instead of email, yet the claim rep continues to send emails, then the satisfaction of the policyholder will likely decrease.
On the other hand, another policyholder may prefer to communicate via text message only. These charts affirm that the channels used to communicate are important to policyholders. If a claim rep can adapt and provide consistent communication based on the personality and lifestyle of each policyholder, then customer satisfaction will likely increase. Technology and data mining can further help insurance companies prepare for flexibility with policyholders.
Improvements in policyholder satisfaction do not require large budgets or massive headcount increases. Insurance companies can simply focus their efforts on these five easy ways to improve policyholder satisfaction. Through managing expectations, keeping claim representatives well-prepared, streamlining the claims process, utilizing technology and tailoring the claims experience to the insured, insurance companies can significantly improve policyholder satisfaction and maintain long-term relationships with their customers.