Canadian Underwriter

Where Aviva is going with text messaging for customer interaction

July 22, 2020   by Greg Meckbach

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Aviva Canada is using short message service (SMS), or texting, to communicate with customers, a technology on which it was focusing before building mobile apps.

“We are already texting to our customers today,” Bryant Vernon, Aviva Canada’s chief claims officer, said during a recent webinar. “The adoption of text messaging is much higher than [a mobile] app.”

He is not criticizing mobile apps. But Vernon suggests that unlike the banking industry, the property and casualty insurance industry’s interactions with clients are not frequent enough that customers tend to think they should download apps.

“We already have one-way SMS,” Vernon said during How COVID-19 can improve your digital health, a recent webinar hosted by Canadian Underwriter. “We are looking at bi-directional SMS, and we are looking to see how [we can keep] the broker in the loop.

“A number of broker management systems have the ability to ingest SMSs, as long as they are formatted in a way that it can recognize that this is about a claim or about a policy. Then [brokers] can actually update their own systems with the new information.”

When it comes to texting, many industries outside of insurance are already doing just that. Vernon points to hair salons as an example. “There are a number of places that say, ‘You want to get a haircut? Tell me the days that work for you and these are the time slots. Pick a time slot,’” said Vernon.

“When you talk about being able to do things on your own schedule, especially post-COVID, having that type of capability is really good for the customer and for the companies that are engaging in it.”

Using SMS was only one suggested way to reduce friction between the consumer and P&C organizations. Also on the webinar was Lynne vonWistinghausen, head of operations and technology for Marsh Canada. She said Marsh is offering clients the ability to submit information on PDF forms.

“It’s a low-tech solution, and provides a lot of streamlined capabilities internally, which still takes out a lot of the administration [required by the brokerage],” vonWistinghausen said of providing fillable PDF forms to clients.

In a poll of webinar listeners, the audience of predominantly insurance professionals was asked whether their teams are spending too much time on administration and not enough time on selling. More than half (58%) of audience members said yes, one in five said no, while 22% said they were not sure or do not know.

“Any type of technology that can help you reduce that administration is great, because that is where you are going to get the time to sell – reducing the admin paperwork,” said webinar panellist Ron Glozman, founder and CEO of Chisel AI.

Internal prcoesses are one reason why brokers and insurers spend a lot of time on administration, said Glozman. Another reason has to do with regulation, the need to have a certain stream of paperwork to comply with regulation.


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2 Comments » for Where Aviva is going with text messaging for customer interaction
  1. Jamie K. says:

    It’s plain amazing that Aviva would get in to this. Seems to me that the message from their broker’s has been clear on them not communicating directly with our clients. So what’s this then. Where is the claims status API we have been asking for year’s for. Why did your API program shut down in fact. I thought you were out of money. Was this tech free? Or is it because you think now going direct is your direction? I will certainly keep this under advisement as I service MY customers. And any other co that is going directly after MY customers with this kind of tech. You aren’t a bank. You aren’t a cool tech company. And right now you are getting a C- at best on your actual core business. Smarten up. Listen to your brokers. Start doing what we desperately need you to do. Then we’ll have a future and it won’t be Amazon Insurance.

  2. Thomas says:

    Which platforms are being used by P&C organizations?
    Are there privacy issues which limit sharing personal information with third party software?

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