October 16, 2019 by Adam Malik
Talent shortage and keeping pace with change are two of the top issues facing claims professionals over the next three to five years, but that’s just the start of their concerns.
Meeting policyholders’ service level expectations and the volatility of claims patterns are also on their radar.
“When I think about service delivery … my concern is meeting the client’s expectations from a technology perspective,” AXA XL’s Glen Hopkinson said at the Canadian Independent Adjusters’ Association Claims Summit last week in Toronto.
Claims pros do a good job on the soft skills and communications end of things, he said, but the policyholders’ main concerns are around the simple things like wondering why the industry still pays out claims using paper cheques.
Hopkinson used the example of a company dental plan. After you go to the dentist, you file your claim and the money shows up a couple of days later. “We’re not at that level yet,” he said as part of a panel that polled the audience on various questions and then gave their insights. “How can we take some of those technology tools and implement them in a large commercial space? It’s a challenge.”
Shorter cycle times result in the quick handling of a file, leading to a more satisfied client, said Kumar Sivakumaran of ClaimsPro. The whole idea is to enhance the customer experience. “In order to gain that, you have to leverage technology….In order to leverage technology, we have to face change management, because we struggle with having to compete with speed and yet not compromise [the] quality [of claims-handling].”
Therein lies the challenge, said panelist Becky Cameron of Aon. Companies can get the smartest people and get them trained to the highest possible level, but it’s all for naught if you can’t keep pace with change. “No matter how many training programs or mentoring programs we set up, our ability as organizations to consistently deliver those models is a challenge the industry must face,” she said.
Circling back to the problem of talent, Erin Fischer of Wawanesa senses a lack of excitement around the claims sector from the outside looking in. Claims professionals are struggling with “how to create a buzz around the industry to get new entrants to work in claims,” she said, adding that claims adjusting is a “great, noble” job. “It’s a fabulous thing. What do you do? You help people.”
This isn’t to say the claims sector hasn’t achieved recruiting success. But greater emphasis needs to be placed on turning claims experts into ambassadors in order to attract people from other industries. For example, Fischer said, why can’t the person who is taking your blood pressure work in accident benefits?
“There are lots of great options as people are changing careers more often,” she said, adding that the industry needs to engage recruits in a different way than they have in the past.
John Sharoun of Crawford & Company acted as the moderator for the panel. He agreed with Fischer’s assessment of claims being “maybe the most noble thing you could do in this industry.” However, the challenges of the job can scare people off, he noted.
“My experience has been that, as an IA [independent adjuster], you’re on call,” said Sharoun. “You’re being called after hours. Not everyone wants to work all the hours we’re obligated to work. We lose people to carriers and to brokers. It seems that, from their perspective, it’s a more structured 9-5 job with less stress and is more in line with their personal lives.”