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The Great Equalizer

The claims process becoming more automated is a great stride forward but could possibly lose touch with great customer service.

June 19, 2017 Photo

Given my background with the airline industry—if you don’t know, I was senior risk manager at Continental Airlines (now United Airlines) and principal in the international planning group at American Airlines before “taking off” on my own to start CLM—it’s interesting to see a technology revolution I saw take hold in the airlines migrating more noticeably into the complex world of claims. 

Way back when (I’m speaking of pre-2008, back when the original iPhone was released), it was normal to buy an airline ticket that was then delivered in the mail. When you arrived to the airport, you checked in with a representative from the airline. In other words, there were “touches” all over the place. And while there are still ways for this to happen today, most of the process is automated. Tickets are emailed, kiosks promote self-service check-ins, and apps supply QR codes for use in passing through security. When was the last time you needed to see someone from the airline prior to walking on the actual plane?

Our industry is making a similar yet unabashedly more complex push towards efficiency, as noted in two recent news items. First came a report from Reuters that said Zurich is using artificial intelligence to settle personal injury claims. “We...saved 40,000 work hours, while speeding up the claims processing time,” said Zurich’s chairman Tom de Swaan, noting that claims resolution time was reduced from an hour to mere seconds.

The second bellwether came from LexisNexis Risk Solutions research entitled, “The Future of Claims: Touchless Claims Study.” It included “interviews with 24 senior-level insurance executives about the integration of automation into their claims processing workflow, and found that 79 percent recognized the importance of increasing auto claims automation as a critical or top priority.” The study went on to discuss a “touchless handling” approach to claims that could involve as few as one or even zero touches before resolution.

So it’s clear that automation is coming, but just like we see in the headlines these days with the airlines, it doesn’t always mean smooth sailing. Remember one thing: Customer service has always been—and will continue to be—the great equalizer. Sometimes, a caring touch is all that’s needed.

About The Authors
Adam Potter

Adam Potter is the chief executive officer of CLM. He can be reached at  adam.potter@theclm.org

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