Just how well did the insurance industry cope with the storms? It would be nice to think that insurers took the view that claims were exactly what they were there to meet. It would be nice to think that they took the opportunity of handling claims to make their customers feel wanted, to engender a brand
loyalty that is so difficult in the price competitive world of consumer insurance. It would be nice to think that customers who had begrudgingly paid their premiums for years suddenly thought of the industry as their saviour.
It would be nice to think so, but it isn't true.
For all the hype, we already know that many insurers failed on the basics. Despite weather warnings well in advance, some insurers failed to employ enough staff in their call centres to answer calls. They had also squeezed their loss adjusting suppliers so hard in recent years that they too were unable to meet the demand, often leaving distressed claimants without even the basics of a call-back for several hours. Such service levels, as one insurer used to say, make a drama out of a crisis.
Brokers have complained about the service standards they receive from insurers and have been ignored, but now consumers too feel let down. That is bad for the individual insurers concerned but it is bad for the industry too.
Better service will cost more, but insurers will have to bite that bullet. The payback will be worth it in the long-run. Once insurers have improved standards, consumers will be more receptive to much needed increases in premiums. But the onus will be on the industry to demonstrate that the increased premiums represent value for money.
It's time the industry stopped talking about service standards and started delivering them.