Snapsheet President, Andy Cohen, shared insights on the future of claims at Reuters’ Connected Claims 2022
The Reuters 2022 Insurance Events series ended with Connected Claims in Chicago on November 2-4. Snapsheet President, Andy Cohen, stepped on stage for a panel discussion on the last day of the conference for the session “Hit the Reset Button on Claims Strategy.” Cohen was joined by leaders from Richmond National, LifeCare Assurance Company, and American Modern Insurance Group to discuss how carriers can implement technology to drive strategic growth. Bryan Falchuk moderated the engaging discussion.
A central theme of the session was reshaping the claim of the future. The panel focused on the customer experience, a recurring theme throughout Connected Claims. The customer experience is what drives carriers and insurtechs to improve. Althea Garvey, VP Chief Claims Officer at LifeCare Assurance Company, talked about humanizing the claims experience, especially after the stresses on people over the last few years. “When we talk about resetting strategy for claims, we are taking the perspective that everything has changed. We are looking at every procedure, every single process, to eliminate all of the inefficiencies to get back to serving our clients at the highest level.”
The other panelists echoed this resetting of processes and procedures. Cohen described the breadth and depth of experience working with carriers and MGAs of all sizes. He talked about the various challenges carriers face between labor shortages, lingering supply chain issues, and changing customer expectations. He noted because of these challenges, “it’s very easy to just focus on where we are now, but that is the enemy of building toward the long term.”
Cohen described the need for an overhaul of operating models to embrace technology, noting the business model has changed, but historically operations have continued in much the same way. Elaborating on this, Cohen explained we often feel the market has changed because of external influences, like inflation, or because of industry-wide issues like increased severities. But in fact, it is the model that has changed.
Virtual Claims Handling is Changing Customer Experience for the Better
Businesses everywhere had to pivot when the world was locked down due to the pandemic. Claims organizations moved to a virtual model with adjusters working from home around the world. Many carriers had historically felt a remote workforce would not be successful when it comes to the customer experience, but the pandemic proved otherwise. Garvey noted it was critical to continue claim handling without impacting the customer experience.
One benefit of the pandemic was streamlining technology. Brandon Cagnon, VP of Customer Experience at American Modern Insurance Group, described how going virtual as a pandemic response helped align technology, noting in the past, field adjusters and in-house staff used different programs. But during the pandemic, the two factions had to align on a communications program, which led to a more streamlined customer experience. It’s also positively affected employees; as Cagnon noted, the technology has enabled field staff to feel more connected to the office.
Cohen described the culture at Snapsheet, saying the company was designed to be successful with a remote workforce long before the pandemic. “We can hire the best people from around the country — that’s always been our value proposition.” Cohen talked more about upcoming labor shortages and the loss of legacy knowledge the industry faces in the near future as senior adjusters retire, citing about 60% of claims workers will be eligible to retire by 2025.
“The impact on the customer experience is how companies with a combination of people and systems and data and technology can train and onboard (new) adjusters to give a good customer experience. A lot of companies are struggling to embed that legacy knowledge. (At Snapsheet) we’ve built our tech platform to make it a proactive world that tells the person what to do next,” Cohen explained.
This proactive world means an inexperienced adjuster has a digital mentor or advisor to guide a senior adjuster, helping the new adjuster provide a better customer experience while also learning best practices to be more efficient on future claims.
David Vanalek, SVP Chief Legal & Compliance Officer, Richmond National, reiterated Cohen’s point. He explained how using technology to meet the customer's needs through a remote workforce has been his focus since starting in his role. The company has hired people through a completely remote process, which Vanalek acknowledged has been challenging.
The Best Customer Experience is the one the Customer Wants
“There’s no such thing as counterproductive innovation, in my view.” Cohen described how a culture of continuous improvement where teams learn from fast failure drives innovative growth. He pointed out the importance of considering outcomes: “We have to understand where the tech and innovation are and what the outcome will be.” He gave an example of how spending time and money to shorten process time by one minute may not efficiently use resources unless critical learning happens.
“The goal right now has to be improving indemnity or reducing expenses or improving the customer experience. Focusing on things that can move the needle in six, nine, or twelve months, and then things that can move the needle five, ten, twenty years down the road,” Cohen explained.
The panel moved on to finish with a discussion about managing expenses while still providing an excellent customer experience from start to finish. Garvey spoke about the critical balance of speed and accuracy in claims, saying, “No customer is served by a bad decision.”
Cohen summarized the customer experience succinctly: “The best customer experience is the one the customer wants. You must determine what the customer wants, then drive the outcome around that. If you build a good customer experience and start with the data first, the expense ratio will take care of itself without increasing indemnity.”