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Technology Needed to Support HO Claims Process

By Allan Robinson, Senior Vice President, Claims, Horace Mann

Allan Robinson, Senior Vice President, Claims, Horace Mann

Last year, I shared my thoughts on the impact new and emerging technologies are having on the P&C claims process. New claims systems, smartphone apps, drones, telematics, predictive analytics, and straight-through processing continue to make the claims process easier, more effective and more efficient for insurance companies and their customers – particularly for auto claims. Now, with increased weather-related claims, carriers are recognizing the need to leverage similar technology in the homeowner space.

What’s working for auto claims?

The days of spending time and money to send an adjuster out to estimate a standard, non-investigative auto claim are long gone. Thanks to the ever-evolving smartphone apps, customers can take pictures of damage and complete an auto claim with the convenience of their phone, without having to wait for an adjuster. The claim with photos is pushed through a rules engine to determine what type of damage there is and what repairs might cost. Adjusters then assess the report and issue a check. Not only does this expedite the process, but it also creates a better customer experience which translates into increased customer satisfaction.

As we see more and more weather-related claims in the property space—both catastrophes and non-catastrophes—insurers need a solution for managing the influx while also handling the day-to-day claim activity. But how do insurers juggle the unpredictable volume of claims with the same amount of staff resources, while continuing to deliver a positive customer experience? It’s the million dollar question – and technology is certainly part of the answer.

Leveraging technology for property claims

There’s no doubt that claims staff and adjusters play a critical role in the claim process, but there are certain property perils that lend themselves to self-service options. We have an enormous opportunity in the insurance industry to leverage technology to boost efficiencies, further engage customers, and accelerate the overall claim process.

Think about the tools readily available to us today, from high-resolution camera phones and smartphone apps to video chat functionality, drones and so much more. Similar to an auto claim, customers can use their smartphones to submit videos and photos of the property damage—or even use video chat to share information in “real-time” with the adjuster, who then determines the estimate and settles the claim. While a peril like hail damage is typically better suited for an adjuster to inspect (to ensure the damage is new), technology allows customers to provide details up front, which helps adjusters better understand the damage.

Not only does technology help expedite the claim process and improve customer satisfaction, but it also frees up resources to help manage the unexpected influx in weather-related claims as they occur.

Differentiating ourselves in the industry

As insurance providers look for ways to set themselves apart from the competition, the use of technology in the claim process is a great differentiator. But we need to look at other opportunities to improve the customer experience, too. For example, Horace Mann has started leveraging partnerships with preferred contractors/ vendors for property repairs, similar to our A+ Repair Shop program for vehicles. This offers our customers peace of mind knowing they’re getting the best quality repairs and service in the area.

And as we experienced during the unprecedented wildfires last fall, nothing is as important as the comfort and assurance of a company that is truly “there” for customers when they need us most. The partnership between a sales agent and a claims adjuster can make an incredible difference when customers are faced with the unknown. There’s no technology, process or program that can replace compassion and peace of mind – when the biggest priority is to help those customers get their lives back to normal as quickly as possible. Because that’s why we’re here.

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