Canadian Underwriter

U.S. auto insurance customers slow to adopt digital claims reporting, J.D. Power finds

October 23, 2017   by Canadian Underwriter

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Despite a nationwide advertising blitz for mobile auto insurance apps and widespread use of digital channels to purchase insurance, auto insurance customers in the United States have been slow to adopt digital claims reporting, J.D. Power reported on Monday.

Its 2017 U.S. Auto Claims Satisfaction Study, the consumer insights, advisory services and data and analytics company was based on responses from 11,857 auto insurance customers who settled a claim within the past six months prior to taking the survey. The study excludes claimants whose vehicle incurred only glass/windshield damage or was stolen, or who only filed a roadside assistance claim. Survey data was collected from November 2016 through August 2017.

J.D. Power said in a press release that the slow adoption finding is significant in light of “dramatically rising claims frequency and high losses, which are forcing insurers to control costs through increased reliance on technology.”

“U.S. auto insurers have invested heavily in technology that will help them gain efficiencies in claims handling, but there are still certain areas of the claims process where the human touch is proving difficult to replace,” said David Pieffer, Property & Casualty Insurance Practice lead at J.D. Power. “As insurers continue down this path, it will be critical that communication with their customers is not negatively affected.”

Among the key findings of the study:

  • Few customers are adopting digital first notice of loss (FNOL) offerings – Nearly one-fourth (22%) of auto insurance customers begin their interaction with an insurer online, but just 9% of customers opt to report a claim digitally via the web or a mobile app. Even among Gen Y customers (those born between 1977 and 1994), who are most likely to report a claim digitally, only 12% are taking advantage of FNOL technology, a number that’s increased just 2 percentage points since 2016. Worse, overall satisfaction is 16 points lower (on a 1,000-point scale) among all customers who are using digital FNOL offerings than among those who report via phone;
  • Digital appraisal and status updates showing promise – While adoption rates and satisfaction with digital FNOL offerings have been stubbornly low, digital status updates and digital appraisal offerings, which allow customers to upload damage photos via a mobile app, are being used by roughly 16% of auto insurance claimants. Overall satisfaction is 33 points higher among customers who receive digital status updates than among those who do not. Customer satisfaction with digital appraisal apps is mixed based on the age of the customer, with satisfaction improving by 26 points among Gen Y and declining by 16 points among Pre-Boomers (born before 1946) when using appraisal apps; and
  • Claim servicing is top driver of satisfaction, but results vary widely by insurer – Claim servicing is the top driver of overall customer satisfaction, but it also has the largest range of performance when comparing the highest and lowest insurer scores. The top performer in the claims servicing factor has an overall customer satisfaction score that is 104 points higher than the lowest performer.

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