August 6, 2020 by Greg Meckbach
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way Intact Financial Corp. offers digital services and some of these changes could be permanent.
Since several provinces imposed lockdown measures in March after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, Intact has seen “a very sharp increase in the takeup rates” of some digital services for clients, said Patrick Barbeau, Intact’s senior vice president of claims.
Examples include filing claims online and tracking their progress, Barbeau said during a recent conference call discussing Intact’s financial results for the three months ending June 30.
“The key question for us is how the future will be permanently alerted as a result of COVID-19,” CEO Charles Brindamour said July 29 during the earnings call.
“The changes we are seeing on the digital front and the step up that we have seen in Q1, in our mind, will be a new plateau to grow from. We are not going backwards from there and our value proposition from a digital point of view will improve over time because we have doubled down on our investment.”
Auto claims are just one example. Intact is able to assess auto losses using photos and videos uploaded by the claimants, Barbeau suggested. During the three months ending June 30, Intact was able to estimate the damage on more than 60% of its auto claims from photos submitted by clients.
“That number was in the teens entering the crisis,” said Barbeau. “We have seen, in many cases, that that has started to accelerate the cycle time and the quality of service.”
Intact officials were asked by an investment banking analyst whether loss estimates based on viewing photos (rather than examining the damage on-site) could lead to misuse.
“We had to prepare quite a few controls around that,” said Brindamour, pointing out that when a vehicle gets repaired, the initial estimate can be adjusted.
“So far I would say the signs are pretty positive. In fact, we have seen an additional precision on the assessments when they are done this way partly because the process is consistent. When our clients send us the information about their claim, they are guided through our mobile app of what kind of pictures they have to take. There is metadata behind those pictures that allow us to confirm time stamps and locations and all sorts of things that are useful in the investigation of claims. So I think we have quite a few angles that control any misuse that would arise from a digital process.”
Intact started looking at its cost and savings when the COVID-19 crisis started, said chief financial officer Louis Marcotte. “We saw that phone calls were not coming in at the same volume as usual.”
So intact re-deployed about 1,000 people to different areas, such as accounts receivable.
“We took a further number of people to accelerate our digital initiatives and developments,” said Marcotte. “The view here was to take advantage of the resources that are suddenly a bit less occupied, re-deploy them in the right areas and accelerate some of the developments we were already working on. We went further than that, tried to harvest further savings from the pandemic throughout the year and those savings are essentially being re-invested in acceleration of our technology investments.”
Feature image by iStock.com/Pattanaphong Khuankaew