Canadian Underwriter

The importance of tailoring electronic claims payments during COVID-19

September 16, 2020   by Jason Contant

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Insurers should be tailoring their claims payment options to the type of claim a policyholder has, a U.S. payment provider said during a recent webinar.

“If it’s a disaster, [a policyholder] may need money immediately to go get a hotel room or to buy necessities,” said Jeff Brown, president of Plano, Tex.-based claims payment provider VPay. “If it’s a total loss on their car, it may be a different type of payment that they want.”

Some insurers may have customers who choose to pay their premiums with a debit or credit card. “You can capture that information and reuse that same information to [pay] the policyholder money back in the event of the claim,” Brown said during Shaping Claims Experience in the Next Normal: Find Your Competitive Edge, a webinar hosted Sept. 9 by Reuters Events. The webinar explored how the COVID-19 pandemic is forcing carriers to move forward more quickly with their digital transformation and innovation plans.

Options such as providing quicker and tailored forms of payment are the “types of personal experiences we would emphasize need to be leveraged and ones that your policyholders are going to come to expect in the near-term,” Brown said.

The COVID-19 pandemic is accelerating the need for new forms of electronic payments that focus on convenience and providing multiple options, Brown said. These electronic payments move money in a matter of minutes, as opposed to paper cheques, or even ACH (automatic clearing house), which show up in a policyholder’s account the next banking day at the earliest. There is also a hold on these slower forms of funds.

“Digital payments offerings are central to meeting your policyholders’ needs and optimizing their experience in this new normal,” Brown said during the webinar. “[Customers] want rapid access to funds, particularly during times of crisis or disadvantage.”

Younger people who use insurance products interact through mobile devices that are connected to everything, Brown said. “This is the way they want to interact in the future with all businesses. These wants were there before COVID. It’s just been accelerated because of COVID.”

One Canadian insurer recently launched an ad campaign demonstrating the ease of starting and processing a car claim at the policyholder’s own convenience through a mobile app. Belairdirect’s “Pretty” campaign, announced Monday, takes a musical-inspired approach to show how “fast and easy it is to file a claim through a few simple touches on the mobile app.” The belairdirect app lets clients submit and track their claim, including the upload of images.

Paying claims is not a strategic function in and of itself: all large insurers have a claims payment department. But “this last piece of the claims process” can’t be ignored, Brown said.

“This payment experience is typically the last experience that your policyholder will have on their claim,” Brown said. “So digitally transforming various aspects of the claim process, but ending with a paper cheque in the mail, leaves your policyholder wanting more; particularly in today’s environment, when policyholders may be reluctant to receive mail for any reason.”


Feature image via Vesalainen

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