Monday, June 11, 2012

Establish Good Claim Relationships BEFORE The Loss!

“Sorry we had to meet under these circumstances..” Such is a comment heard at funerals and during insurance claims. One of the tough aspects of being a claims person is that we meet people under circumstances which are very stressful fir them. By definition, we are not going to engage with a policyholder unless and until he or she suffers a loss.

But … does it HAVE to be this way? Might there be a role for claim professionals before a loss occurs. Could it be that relationship building before a loss might make relationships (and claims) progress more smoothly after a loss?

The point, and somewhat radical notion fir claim departments is .. establish relationships before claims arrive. Typically, by the time a policyholder has any dealings with a claims adjuster, it’s because some kind of calamity has occurred. In this situation, the policyholder is stressed out and perhaps even antagonistic.

As claim professionals, though, why must we wait until there is a loss before reaching out to policyholders?

Be proactive in seeking ways to reach out to accounts and policyholders outside of the context of the claim. This could involve in-person visits. It might involve phone calls. It might involve doing brief in-service training sessions on claim reporting tips, etc.

Step back and think about how you can avoid situations where the only time a policyholder hears from an adjuster is when there is a loss.

Periodically demonstrate the value that you or your claims team has delivered to an account. Some might call this a stewardship report. Of course, this is certainly challenging if the account has had no losses. If an account has had claims, however, the time span leading up to the renewal date is a prime time to itemize the value. This presumes that you have added value during the preceding year. To demonstrate added value, you may want to point to:

Favorable settlements that have been obtained on behalf of the policyholder

Quick claims that were resolved for first-party losses

On liability claims, successful denials

Successful trial outcomes, measured either by defense verdicts or by awards
significantly below the reserve •
Any kind of visit, survey or training conducted by the claims staff

Periodic conference calls or sit-down meetings to review claims status and reserves

These are all part of a recap that you can develop in order to demonstrate value. Do it proactively BEFORE an account leaves.

Think of new ways to deliver value. Philip Lieberman of Lieberman Consulting Services recommends assembling a “claims kit.” According to Lieberman, this is a folder or file containing various documents: general liability claim report, automobile claim report, instructions on how to report different kinds of losses, etc. Further, Lieberman recommends that as part of a first meeting with new clients, while they are in a pre-claim phase, deliver the kit and discuss what the company should do and not to in the event with a loss. Further, schedule a special meeting with new clients and have a claim representative come and deliver that same message.

When is the best time to plant a tree? About thirty years ago.

When is the best time to start building good claim relationships with policyholders? Maybe the answer is, before a loss occurs!