Editor Katie Scott discusses whether a change in perspective around how claims are viewed could help improve customers’ perception of the industry

Last month, Insurance Times hosted its annual Claims Excellence Awards at Kensington’s Royal Garden Hotel (23 May 2024).

Katie Scott Biba

Katie Scott

While there was plenty of fun to be had as we cackled into our wine glasses in response to our hilarious host, comedian Zoe Lyons, there were also some really important market messages and claims conversations reverberating around the room.

Delivering the opening address, I set the scene for the event: “Claims are very much recognised as the shop window of the insurance industry – that moment in time when insurance customers have to cash in on that contract they have made with insurers to alleviate a stressful or upsetting event.

“The claims process beams a spotlight of intense visibility on the insurance ecosystem and provides a moment for us to shine.”

Upon returning to my table, I was quickly drawn into an interesting conversation with Elaine Mason, chief executive of claims delivery business Belvedere Mead, and Victoria Sutton, head of claims operations at Howden.

The duo had been discussing the old ‘shop window’ adage, with Mason wholeheartedly disagreeing with this well known perspective. For her, claims are the product that insurance customers buy, rather than the visible tip of the iceberg that Joe Public associates with being the entirety of the insurance industry – aka, the shop window.

I can certainly understand Mason’s viewpoint. While policy documentation may lurk untouched in virtual or physical filing cabinets for a period of time, the claims process is an intrinsically active aspect of insurance, providing a service that customers purchase, usually understand and can see taking place before them.

They buy insurance policies in order to have the ability to make a claim, should they need to. Therefore, the claims process is the product they are buying when consumers take out a policy.

The metaphor of a shop window can give the impression of window shopping – perusing and reviewing available options, having a peek inside the industry operations, but not making an active purchase or entering the shop. Not getting the purse out and engaging.

Perhaps switching the narrative to present claims as being a product that can be purchased and taken away in a carrier bag rather than a static shop front could help bolster the insurance industry’s reputation by making policies feel more tangible, rather than hidden behind glass and misunderstood jargon.

Find out which firms won at 2024’s Claims Excellence Awards on pages 14 and 15.