March 05, 2010
More than seven billion dollars are spent annually on personal lines for contents. Despite this staggering number, many insurance carriers lack clear strategies and processes for handling contents claims. As a result, inefficiencies and inaccuracies arise, causing insurers to suffer significant, unnecessary costs. Additionally, carriers are putting customer satisfaction at risk and pushing the limits of customer loyalty.
There are some simple best practices to follow—not only to avoid pitfalls but also to improve the bottom line.
Take contents out of the equation.
Adjusters may already be overwhelmed by processing claims for property structures. Add contents claims to the mix and it’s a lot to handle, but it doesn’t have to be. You can take contents out of the equation by utilizing vendor technology and service solutions on the market today.
Pick something that addresses contents claims only. This will help free up your adjusters to focus on their primary objective while reducing the contents claims process from six months to three days or less.
Develop distinct strategies for handling large and small losses.
Large losses and small losses are inherently different and should be treated differently; though, this is not often standard procedure across the industry. Large, catastrophic losses can mean that all contents owned by an insured have been severely damaged or completely destroyed. Small losses typically consist of 20 items or fewer.
Although these are clearly different scenarios, many carriers fail to treat them as such, using the same strategies, tools and services for both. In order to handle both small and large loss claims as efficiently as possible, carriers need scalable software and services that support many simultaneous users and plug directly into the valuation and settlement process. This saves multiple steps and prevents delays in cycle time while delivering the highest-quality contents inventory and valuation. This is especially important since small losses make up 75% of contents claims for carriers.
Track and know your data/metrics.
What if you could control costs while improving services and product offerings? It’s actually quite an attainable goal. You already have the data you need right in your system. By analyzing contents claims data and metrics over time, carriers can begin to understand contents claims trends and history as well as customer behavior.
These are key to improving services and identifying new product and service offerings customers need. These data will also help improve fraud detection. Leading contents claims vendors can provide the software tools and technologies that help carriers track, measure and analyze such trends.
Build Customer Trust and Loyalty
Whether a loss is large or small, insurance claims can be stressful in an already traumatic situation for customers, many of whom are unaware of the challenging process contents claims present. Often, customers are surprised to find that most carriers rely on them to conduct their own inventory after a loss has occurred.
This doesn't have to be the case and, in fact, shouldn’t be. Carriers can offer contents claims tools and services to their customers that alleviate this burden. They can provide either onsite field experts who can help with the inventory and valuation process or do-it-yourself tools that use the phone or the Internet to simplify the process.
Not only will the job get done fast and effectively, you’ll also gain the trust and loyalty of your customers.
Ensure accurate contents valuation.
In the world of contents claims, there’s almost nothing more important than accuracy. Accurate valuation ensures transparency and protects both carriers and their customers, making sure carriers aren’t overpaying and customers are getting the right value for their loss. But even the most thorough inventory of lost contents can contain inaccuracies that cause carriers to bear unnecessary cost and generate poor customer satisfaction.
Accurately gauging the value of the multitude of lost items in a home or business is also extremely difficult. Rather than relying on a Web search, use a centralized process and valuation tools to assure valuation accuracy and consistency.
Following contents claims best practices will help you realize dramatic cost savings, improve customer satisfaction and eliminate inaccuracies.
Jon McNeill is the CEO of Enservio, which provides software and services to property insurance carriers and their policyholders nationwide for contents inventory creation, valuation and replacement.