Supply chain pressures and labour shortages mean Canada’s P&C industry and its suppliers need to focus on communications around claims service to maintain consumer trust and high service levels, insurance executives told a broker conference last week.
Matthew Turack, group president of insurance at CAA Club Group, said when it comes to providing claims service to clients, he chooses to focus on aspects of that experience within his control. That means timely and transparent communications with suppliers.
“The number one priority I hear day in and day out from our brokers, insureds and our partners is to communicate,” Turack told brokers attending the 2022 Annual Convention of the Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario last Thursday.
“Communicate in real time. Be there to answer the phone when I call you. When I email you, respond in a rational, reasonable period of time. Don’t take a week or two to get back to me. Twenty-four business hours is reasonable.”
Communication about the claim status must be constant and ongoing, especially during these exceptional times, he added.
“We can’t create shingles to appear automatically when there’s a shortage of shingles that we need to fix a roof, or [create a car bumper] if a bumper part needs to come from another country,” Turack said. “That’s not the business we’re in. But we can communicate to our brokers and insureds the status of their claim. What’s the status of the repair? Is there going to be a delay?
“That ongoing, open and transparent communication is where you build the trust [with the consumer]. That trust is huge, especially during these times of recession. Owning and maintaining that trust, to me, is one of the most important things we can deliver.”
Several dynamics contribute to the industry’s current challenge of delivering claims services to customers, company executives said during the IBAO’s CEO Panel discussion.
First, supply chain issues are making it difficult to source parts and materials. Auto collision repair centres, for example, may be taking longer to track down parts, increasing repair cycle times for insurers and consumers. And in home insurance, contractors are finding it more difficult to source building materials to repair damage caused by large catastrophes such as Hurricane Fiona in September.
Second, labour shortages are affecting all industries in the Canadian economy. Within the Canadian P&C industry, shortages are affecting brokers, commercial underwriters, claims professionals and IT professionals.
The P&C insurance industry’s supply chain is under enormous pressure right now, observed Intact Insurance (Canada) CEO Louis Gagnon. Particularly, labour shortages in all segments of the P&C industry — including supply networks — mean more “newcomers” are learning how to do the job.
“Because you’re subject to catastrophes…it affects everyone,” Gagnon said of the labour shortages. “It affects your entire organization. You want to mobilize. You want to make sure that you help the people who need it the most…
“The supply chain and the interaction between the different stakeholders in the industry are getting squeezed at very different levels.”