Glenn Thornton, head of major and complex loss at Crawford and Company, discusses how technology is impacting the future of claims

As technology evolves at speed and innovations such as artificial intelligence gain credibility, it is clear that the way insurers and loss adjusters handle claims will change considerably in the near future.

Glenn Thornton Crawford

Glenn Thornton

Claims resolution will get faster and dramatic improvements in data collection and analysis will enable providers to reduce the financial impact of potential losses. 

There are several key drivers for the need to invest in these technologies, such as a push for better customer service and better claims outcomes, coupled with a growing need to limit claims indemnity spend and apply a greater focus to controlling claims costs.

Data cornerstone

While there is now a huge range of tools available to assist claims professionals across all phases of the claims cycle, data remains the cornerstone of claims development and, in essence, what is being created is a more data-enabled claims journey.

The effectiveness of that journey will continue to be reliant on the quality of information and it must become more robust, precise and plentiful to add meaningful value.

As claims experts, our role as stewards of the loss data environment will become an increasingly critical one as we work to ensure that collection processes are effective, accurate and support what Crawford and our clients want to achieve.

Data is also the lifeblood of artificial intelligence – without good information, this exciting and rapidly evolving capability will not be able to reach its full potential as an insurance tool.

Centring the customer

The developments in technology and processes will enable us to respond much more quickly and effectively to changing customer needs, delivering a claims ecosystem that can be used to deliver a multi-channel approach based on individual requirements of each customer.

However, it is imperative that, as we see the adoption of more automated processes, the application of higher resolution data and the greater integration of AI, such developments do not serve to create a disconnect between the insurer or claims manager and the end customer.

A claim is a stressful situation for anyone and the worry of a flood, car accident or similar can weigh heavily or even be life-defining.

Of course, people will always welcome speedy and efficient resolution, but at times like this the human touch is vital. A machine, no matter how efficient, can’t show empathy and it’s imperative the care shown by the claims professionals is clear when the policyholders call in distress.

Our fantastic, talented, skilled claims professionals must remain a central part of the process. The best providers will remember that our end customers are people and many of them still want to be looked after by another person when things go wrong.

Striking the right balance

People are able to solve complex problems, can be empowered to make decisions quickly and more effectively and, crucially, are the fulcrum on which the tech tools can balance in order to be effective.

A huge part of how we can keep that balance at Crawford – and more widely as an industry – is through that empowerment, but it has to start with hearing the voice of the client and really understanding their needs.

Using technology to ease the administrative burden of claims will enable our employees to be more creative and think more strategically and will free up adjusters to have a greater impact on the lifecycle of the claim – thus achieving a resolution quicker.

Ultimately, the best claims specialists will focus on harnessing technology as a tool to deliver an empathetic, human experience.

That is the future that we should aspire to.