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How a different mindset can transform the claims industry


January 25, 2019   by Jason Contant


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The claims industry would benefit from shifting their thinking on what it takes for claims professionals to do their jobs, speakers said Wednesday at the Ontario Insurance Adjusters Association’s 2019 Claims Conference in Toronto.

Think about an employee with 40 years of claims experience. “Can we replace her?” asked Scott MacDonald, national claims director of accident benefits at The Co-operators. “No, we can’t replace 40 years of industry experience. But we don’t have to replace 40 years of industry experience. We have to have somebody who can do the work in a similar way.”

MacDonald used the example of successfully hiring a manager into an accident benefits leadership role, even though she didn’t come from an AB claims background. “[The initial reaction] is ‘Oh my God,’ didn’t come from our claims operation, ‘Holy smokes,’ didn’t come from products,” MacDonald said. “But all kinds of leadership skills. She’s successful and it’s going well and she supports a great team of technicians.”

Career progression is not necessarily just a ladder. “It’s, ‘What does that group need?’ and ‘What do we need in those situations?’” MacDonald said. “I probably wouldn’t have said what I just said five years ago, but I think we’re changing our mindset. That doesn’t mean the next person to step into those shoes can’t be somebody who’s been doing it 25 years, but it doesn’t always have to be.”

Monica Kuzyk, vice president of Curo Claims Services, agreed. “You are going to see more horizontal shifts within your organizations for sure over the next little while,” she said. “It’s exciting to think what your organization is going to need and the people that you’re going to need within your organization to be successful over the next five to 10 years. It’s not going to look the same, that’s for sure.”

Consider a field that the industry never thought about years ago: data scientists. “You open the door on data for your organization,” Kuzyk said. “It opens up so much for you if you’ve got people who know what the data can do. “We know we have data, but how do you mine it effectively to take you to the next level?”

For example, if a person who has already had a claim calls in, and data is available showing that they were happy with their previous collision repair provider and car rental service, “that should automatically be put in front of [adjusters] in times of claims,” Kuzyk said. “That should be right there in front of you.”

Or, if the customer was satisfied with their car rental agency, for example, the claims professional could say to connect the customer with those partners again. “It’s, ‘How do we as insurance professionals identify what that client wants?’ and not ‘I usually send somebody to X or Y because that’s what I know,’” MacDonald said.

“It’s about that policyholder intimacy,” Kuzyk said. “It’s creating that stickiness. You don’t want them to leave, so you want to make it easy for them based on their own preferences go through this experience.”