High net worth loss adjuster Criterion’s operations director Mark Pierce discusses the importance of claims journeys to brokers

The best claims journeys often involve brokers and they should be part of the claims process from day one. As loss adjusters, we appreciate that claims are an important part of the proposition that brokers sell to their clients.

In the High Net Worth (HNW) space, choice remains key, as brokers strive to access this profitable part of the market. HNW policyholders and their insurers too, demand the widest choice of options for any given claim.

There is no doubt that technology provides both choice and speed. But in the HNW space, technology is not the key driver. Yes, it can sometimes be a deciding factor when selecting a loss adjuster, but more often than not technology is not a priority for HNW policyholder when it comes to handling their claim. Ultimately they still prefer to deal with an adjuster in person. This is why providing a personalised and quality service remains vital.

People buy from people. As adjusters, we have to be part of that process. When recruiting, we look for candidates with strong, interpersonal communications skills. Technical ability can be taught, but it is far harder to teach someone those soft skills needed to help someone in the face of adversity.

The first interaction we have with an HNW policyholder is usually through one of our support staff. Diplomacy, empathy and sensitivity are vital at this opening touchpoint. The caller must appreciate they are potentially phoning someone whose house has just burnt to the ground. Get that opening communication piece wrong, and you are immediately on the back foot with the client.

Later, at the initial face-to-face meeting, it’s crucial to deepen the bond with the policyholder by showing empathy. This entails striving to understand how they must be feeling. Often that means listening to them explain what has happened. So let them say what they need to say before getting into the nitty-gritty of what an adjuster’s job is. It’s an important part of the process.

Building that rapport and confidence in an adjuster early on is critical. The adjuster should come away from the first visit with the policyholder with two things. Number one, with the policyholder thinking; ‘These people know what they’re doing and I’m confident in them’. And number two: ‘I now have a clear roadmap of what is going to happen next’.

Setting expectations and living up to them is also vitally important. At that first visit, if you say you will send someone around the next day to collect a smoke-damaged carpet, make sure you do that. If you don’t you will lose the credibility you have only just earned.

Don’t promise what you may not be able to deliver. You are always better off under-promising and over-delivering. This is one of the reasons our compliment ratio is so high at 5:1 for every 5 claims we handle we get one compliment.

Alongside net promoter scores, we gather compliments. These are generally based on three pinch points: how we conduct ourselves in the initial telephone contact; how we handle the first visit; and how we deliver on our promises.

Criterion has been working solely in the HNW space since 2001. We have seen many brokers come and go in this high end of the marketplace over those 18 years.

Similarly, if you compare a typical basket of goods 20 years ago with today it looks very different. But the types of insurance claims made remain similar. The bulk of all claims are still water-related, for example. It might be via rainwater in, or floodwater up, or water inside the building, escaping from a tank or a pipe.

And, while technology enables choice and speed like never before, the principles of providing a personalised, quality service remain constant for serving and retaining HNW policyholders.

Mark Pierce, Operations Director at Criterion