BIBA 2019: Claims are a journey, not just a promise

What brokers and their insurer partners are doing to innovate within claims was a headline topic at the annual British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA) conference in Manchester yesterday.

A claims seminar featuring David Bonehill of Ecclesiastical, Mike Crane of LV=Broker, Damian Glynn of Sedgwick and Andrew Gibbons of Mason Owen Financial Services reflected on the customer’s claims journey, and whether it could be enhanced through fully embracing technology.

Gibbons said that considerable progress had already been achieved in the claims journey, but added that there is still some way to go.

He pointed to Aviva’s report on the claims it has covered in the past 12 months as evidence that insurance is a responsive industry that reacts to severe and unusual claims.

The same report also revealed that Aviva accepted 991,700 claims from its UK customers in 2018, which Gibbons said demonstrated the size of the ongoing challenge facing the industry.

The panel agreed that the customer journey, particularly in the face of such overwhelming claims numbers, remains critical. “Everything we do up to the claim is just a promise,” Crane said.

Crane argued that customers don’t care about the chain involved in dealing with a claim and feedback shows that the more they have to follow-up, the less satisfied with their service they become. He asked: “How close can we get to that single call resolution?”

Bonehill described artificial intelligence (AI) and chatbots as great for handling information and organising claims, but chain and capacity issues, particularly in the aftermath of major events, can’t be fixed with these kinds of technologies.

Glynn added that “human interface is always essential” when responding to a claim, so AI and chatbots can’t replace that critical component. “Problems and issues should [then]  be plugged back into the front end to stop them happening [again in the future].”

Outside of claims, BIBA made several announcements during the event yesterday, including the identity of the association’s new chair.

Former insurance minister and current BIBA board member Jonathan Evans will take over from Lord David Hunt of Wirral on 1 January 2010.

Steve White, chief executive officer of BIBA, said: “We are delighted that Jonathan has agreed to take the position of chair. He has already served on our board for one year as a non-executive director and his experience, credentials and insights will certainly help BIBA to continue to lead the way.”

“He takes up the reins from David (Hunt) who I am sorry to see stand down. He has helped steer BIBA very successfully over the last six years through some times of enormous change.”

Evans added: “I am delighted to accept the role of chair, having admired the work BIBA does for many years. As I’ve worked closely with the team for a year now, I’m really looking forward to helping BIBA continue its successful trajectory.”

BIBA has also appointed Caroline Barr as a non-executive director.

Barr is a former civil servant who has a commercial background in financial services. White said: “Caroline has had broad experience, either in or cutting across our sector and will bring a fresh viewpoint to our table.  I am looking forward to working with her, learning from her involvement in policy making, Government and lobbying to shape BIBA’s future strategy.”

Barr added: “I am really looking forward to being part of BIBA and working with Steve and the rest of the team. The landscape for insurance broking is changing fast, making this an interesting time to be involved in such an influential organisation as BIBA.”