Technology will re-shape claims relationships and processes
The 9th Educational Conference of the International Federation of Adjusting Associations took place in London on 13 October. The theme was 'What the London Market expects from International Loss Adjusters' and throughout the day participants heard how technology is re-shaping the relationship between insurers and loss adjusters.
The conference took place at RGL Forensics’ offices in the City of London and was a full house with over 60 participants from 16 countries – UK, Spain, Italy, Canada, USA, Austria, Uruguay, Trinidad & Tobago, Bolivia, Australia, Japan, Chile, Russia, India, Kenya and Ireland were all represented.
It was the panel sessions that provoked the most interest and comment among participants.
The first panel focused on who can add value, where and how in claims processes. Jonathan Clark from SCOR and the new president of the Chartered Institute of Loss Adjusters, Philip Godwin, head of claims at Lloyd’s, and David Eacott, head of claims at Ed Broking, explained that finding consensus on what value looks like isn’t easy but agreement was reached on the need for co-operation to define and formalise claims processes in the London Market.
Mr Eacott urged support for proposals to give a lead insurer more authority to settle claims and act as a single point of contact, although Mr Godwin warned that the challenge with nominating a single lead on a claim is convincing other insurers and syndicates it is in their interest. In addition, consistency of standards in claims handling between syndicates and insurers will be issue, said Mr Godwin, but one Lloyd's is willing to tackle. One question for Lloyd's is will an empowered single lead bring the market more business? Mr Eacott was unequivocal: "yes"
The panel ended with a modicum of agreement that the conversation about claims handling in the London Market should be formalised
The afternoon panel was truly international with Brent Denmar from Australia, Kazuyoshi Nagamastu from Japan, Patti Kernaghan, a Canadian loss adjuster and past-IFAA president, and Rosie Chopra, formerly senior claims manager at Beazley.
The big topic of their debate was reserving with everyone accepting different countries expect reserves set at different times in the claims cycle and so adjusters need to understand what is expected. Within that broad agreement there are distinct differences in approaches around the world.
Ms Kernaghan said reserving is a big challenge in north America as insurers push back on figures they feel are too high no matter how thorough the work of the loss adjuster.
In Japan claims managers have more discussions with adjusters before agreeing a reserve, said Mr Nagamastu.
in Australia similar discussions take place but adjusters expect to be challenged if they set high reserves, said Mr Denmar. He praised the London Market which has speeded up payments and is now one of the fastest payers in the world
Many markets now have strict regulations about reserving and will penalise under-reserving so adjusters have a duty to be right, added Mr Denmar.
Earlier in the day Jonathan Clark offered some challenging views from his perspective as global head of business solutions and claims at SCOR Global P&C. Insurers have to make quick decisions about mitigation, restoration, repair and quantum and adjusters must aid that process, said Mr Clark.
John Hurrell, chief executive of the Association of Insurance and Risk Managers (AIRMIC) put the commercial policyholder viewpoint - and didn't pull any punches as he pointed out how technology was empowering policyholders and their insurers: “Insurers can look at major damage online nowadays so adjusters need to add value through experience and imagination”.
Mr Hurrell left participants with some thoughts about digital disruption which he said the insurance industry was struggling to keep up with. It has a major problem when 80% of market value of S&P/FTSE companies is now intangible assets but the insurance industry remains focussed on insuring the 20% of major corporate assets that are physical.
Lloyd's claims guru Philip Godwin looked at the market's changing expectations of claims handling: "Are we involving you early enough in the claims process?" he asked.
Technology - especially remote imagery - is changing the claims process when access is limited, meaning it can now move much faster. Data and analytics is another technology driven game-changer, said Mr Godwin
Despite those challenges, adjusters remain "Critical contributors to attacking claims lifecycles" and aid customer retention, said Godwin, who finished with a simple message for the participants: "Inspire confidence".
How can forensic investigation help provide certainty in uncertain times? That was the big question RGL Forensics’ senior manager's Vlad Prykmeta was asked to tackle.
Clients want certainty about value and validity of claims said Mr Prykmeta, but sometimes they want that before full access to all information is possible.
That certainty becomes harder to achieve as world gets more uncertain with currency volatility in particular causing problems with sums insured, reinstatement costs, impact on profits, losses and gains on currency hedges.
The afternoon session opened up with a review of the role of the forensic scientist by Andrew Moncrieff, MD of Hawkins, who also stressed speed of action: “Talking to witnesses in immediate aftermath of an incident is often very revealing”, demonstrating the value of early access.
Dr Moncrieff listed some of the challenges his investigators faced, including security and safety, international travel bureaucracy, extreme climatic conditions and corruption.
The bottom line is that to work effectively in other countries you have to be alongside a local adjuster or agent, said Dr Moncrieff.
Paul Handy, Head of Global Services at Crawford & Co, explained how international adjusters' roles are changing, especially within Crawford.
Adjusters rely too much on claims related activities. "We need to generate revenues in peacetime as well", said Mr Handy. Natural catastrophes have been very quiet since the Christchurch earthquakes five years ago. This has forced adjusters into leaner staffing. Alongside this, claims volumes will continue to decline because of preventative technologies, so adjusters need new value propositions which is why Crawford was gradually re-positioning itself to offer a much broader range of consultancy services.
The day finished with news about IFAA developments from Director at Large Paul May. He said the IFAA is growing with Mexico now in membership and several discussions underway with other South American associations.
We are excited to announce that AMASAC, from Mexico, has joined the IFAA.
We would like to take this opportunity to welcome our colleagues from Mexico on board and thank them for joining us.
For more information please visit the Member Associations section, thank you.
The IFAA congratulates Santiago Calzado, from APCAS Spain, and Andrey Bogachov on being elected President and Vice-President of the IFAA respectively.
We would like to thank Patti Kernaghan from CIAA (Canadian Indepent Adjuster's Association) for all her efforts during her presidency. We will keep having her invaluable input for the next year as Past-President of the IFAA.
Finally we would like to thank Felipe Hoetz, from ALOSI Chile, for his hard work and great help in expanding the IFAA. ALOSI will be stepping down from the Executive Board after three years in which their contribution has been vital to the development of the IFAA.
NAIA-Russia joins the IFAA.
We are delighted to let you know that the National Association of Insurance Adjusters from Russia has joined the IFAA.
The Executive Board of NAIA - Russia voted unanimously in favour of joining the IFAA during their General Meeting held in Moscow on 10th December 2015.
We would like to take this opportunity to welcome our colleagues from Russia on board and thank them for joining us.
Adjusters step into controversy over claims advocate role
The growing role of loss adjusters as claims advocates proved controversial during the panel debates at the recent International Federation of Adjusting Associations’ 8th Educational Conference in London.
Adjusters argued that their expertise should improve the way claims are handled, especially for hard-pressed small and medium sized businesses. The presence of loss adjusters on the claimant side of the fence raised potentially controversial issues for others, however.
Nick Balcombe, Partner in Harris Balcombe, said it was impossible for loss adjusters to switch from representing insurers to representing claimants: “It is a different mind between representing insurers and policyholders and it isn’t possible to do both effectively. An adjuster who is used to acting for insurers may not give the correct advice to an insured”. He said the solution would be a law prohibiting an adjuster switching sides in a year, such as recently introduced in Florida. Although there wasn’t much support for a legal requirement, other panelists said they had some sympathy for the principle.
The panels turned the spotlight on insurers with strong endorsement of the Financial Conduct Authority’s recent findings around delays and absence of decision making: “Insurers have also taken authority away from adjusters. They are full of paper pushers who can’t make a decision”, said Balcombe.
Andy McAvan, Property and Energy Claims Manager at Ace European Group, defended insurers arguing that information flows are key to getting the right response from insurers. He accepted that insurers had to work harder to get to know their policyholders and also make sure the experts they appoint do their jobs well.
Philip Whelpdale from HDI Gerling said brokers had a part to play too by not placing business with insurers they know have poor records on handling or paying claims.
Paul May, IFAA’s Director-at-Large, stressed how the role differs from that of the traditional loss adjuster: “It is not an impartial role. An advocate is a champion and they enter the fray with total loyalty to their client”. This was a constant refrain of many speakers during the day.
The reasons for the growth in the use of claims experts to represent policyholders were made clear by the keynote speaker from the UK regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority. The FCA’s technical specialist, John Parker, set out the findings of the Authority’s review of the way claims from SMEs are handled and it didn’t make good reading for the insurance industry. He highlighted the significant gap between the expectations of SMEs when faced with making and insurance claim and the actually delivery by the industry: “There is a considerable variation in how ell claims are handled. While many are handled well there is evidence of difficult, traumatic and unduly prolonged experiences for an SME trying recover its business”.
Parker said the key problems are poor communication and slow decision making, often the consequence of adherence to a process that didn’t focus on the needs of the policyholder: “There is a lack of proactive communication often marked by repeated requests for updates. Too often it is a process that drifts on with no-one owning it and no one driving it to a conclusion”.
He added that the policyholder experience with insurer-appointed adjusters was variable: “Some adjusters are out of their depth, although others are helpful and fair”, while assessors were “not perfect but in general assessors add value to a claim, especially where there is customer distress”.
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Announcing the itinerary for the Miami Conference. Registration for the 6th Educational Conference is now OPEN - to be held on Tuesday 19th May 2015 in Miami. For more information please go to the Conferences page.