With the majority of insurance policies now purchased online, potential policyholders are likely looking for the cheapest premium and probably not a lot else, writes David Booker, director at DLB Investigations Ltd. But do they consider what’ll happen if they need to make a claim? No, probably not. Ask them to predict that claims experience in the event they need to make one, and they’d probably base their response on a previous claim – which could well have been with a different insurance company

With over 20 years’ experience in the claims investigations industry, it’s puzzling to see how many insurance companies fail to fully recognise that key elements of the claims process can have a profound overall effect on the customer journey.

Reputational damage can come from many quarters. Getting it ‘wrong’ could see customers voting with their feet at policy renewal. Getting it right can see insurers on the opposing side of a claim ‘bagging’ a new customer, simply by providing a perceived better service than the other guy’s insurers.

Let’s take a look at one area of the claims journey: Claims Investigation. Developing and implementing “the latest technology” is an obvious way to drive efficiency and accuracy, while at the same time lowering costs. Sounds great doesn’t it? but not all technological advancements are what they seem. Some of the ‘latest technology’ often adds little of tangible value to the insurer nor improves their policyholder’s claims experience. In the extreme, it can create less accuracy, lead to an increase in false positives and, moreover, deliver nothing in the way of material evidence to advance a claim to a swift settlement, potentially leading to policyholder frustration and dissatisfaction.

Can Investigations suppliers positively enhance brand reputation?

Field investigation suppliers are a strategic instrument in the insurer’s toolkit. Not least is the customer-facing role they perform daily. A supplier should represent and enhance the insurer’s brand reputation with the utmost integrity, at all times.

Investigation personnel need access to the right technological resources, but also have the right expertise, experience and personalities to deliver a robust and professional service, while treating customers with respect and care. Furthermore, measurable outputs must include both tangible returns, in the form of financial savings but also intangible returns, by ensuring the policyholder is not only impressed with the level of service provided but inspired that their insurers went above and beyond to resolve their claim swiftly and fairly. A positive claims experience lingers long in the mind of the policyholder when choosing their insurers.

But can such experience exist? The simple answer is yes. But make no mistake, the technology is only part of the solution and is nothing without the right people interacting with it. Experience shows that Artificial Intelligence (AI) will never entirely replace humans (at least, not in my lifetime), yet many organisations are, perhaps misguidedly, seeing AI as a potential panacea.

Mixing the best people with the best tech available is potentially a better way to obtain the best outcomes. For example, online video interviews are increasingly popular. Whilst they may have a function, a video interview cannot reveal subtle yet critical nuances of an interviewee’s behaviour or attitude, which is more likely to be detected in a face-to-face meeting.

With suspected fraudulent claims, experience shows that familiarity with online environments, never mind the advent of Deepfakes, allows claimants to create alternative personalities, or simply answer an investigator’s questions via cue cards or ‘prompts’ provided by an accomplice off-camera. It’s difficult to identify the genuine from the fake in such circumstances.

But individuals cannot help but reveal their true traits and intentions in person. These are often very different to the ‘character’ created on a remote claim form or FNOL call recording, where a ‘script’ may have been utilised. Only human observations and insights can accurately assess an individual or a claim in the detail often required. The human element makes a profound and genuine difference to quality and integrity of the overall investigation, which ultimately creates evidential value to the client.

But to say technology does not have a role would be incorrect. Indeed, the right technology at the relevant touch points streamlines the overall investigation process, making it quicker and cheaper, yet no less probative.

In conclusion

In its simplest form, technology guides investigations to meet timescales and deadlines, reducing claims portal dropouts and claims cycle times. More advanced forms use conditional algorithms created from real-life experiences to ensure no interview questions are overlooked. Much of the process is automated to assist in the acquisition of secure, in-depth evidence, as well as screening for fraud indicators. In conclusion, combining the best human and tech resources offers the optimal solution.