The Uberisation of Insurance – Putting the Customer First
“Uberisation” is not a real word. And yet it is used daily all over the world to symbolise the shift towards a consumer focused, digital economy. Where individual and collective agency replaces corporate policy. Where the dynamics between consumer and provider is equitable, transparent and fair.
This “Uberisation” effect has come to insurance. Where the customer comes first and the insurance business is there to support and not confront in times of loss. This week, Rick Huckstep looks at the shift towards self-service and the Uberisation of insurance claims with InsurTech provider 360Globalnet.
(image source: Pexels)
Putting the customer first
Uberisation. The seismic shift in consumer expectations of customer service has risen enormously since online retailers began to offer digital access to services, all day, every day, from anywhere. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos undoubtedly lead this shift towards putting the customer first.
And when you add digital and mobile capability to this laser focus on the customer, it is easy to see how the likes of AirBnB and Uber are borne. With self-service (literally) in the hands of the consumer, these digital platforms enable consumers to determine what they want, when they want it.
As Trov CEO, Scott Walchek put it to me; this is the generation of the agent. The consumer is in control and the entire demand economy is built on this shift in power from corporates to the individual.
Giving the customer control
According to Microsoft’s 2015 Global State of Multichannel Customer Service Report, more than 90% of the 4,000 consumers surveyed say they now expect brands and organisations to have a customer self-service offering.
This is a subject I covered earlier this year after I had spent an afternoon with 360Globalnet CEO, Paul Stanley. In the March article, called “Can InsurTech be disruptive without disrupting?”, we discussed the win-win for both customers and insurers from a self-service model. Not least the massive savings in an insurer’s call centre when around half of all calls from customers are simply asking “what’s going on with my claim?”
Rather unusually at the time (c2010), when 360Globalnet founder and CEO Paul Stanley set up the business, he was passionate that customer self-service should become a regular feature in insurance transactions, especially at the common pain point of claims.
A salutary aspiration in an industry where business processes had barely changed in almost half a century.
Clearly too much time is spent processing claims, with the customer having little or no control over the process. Nor is it a customer friendly experience. All too often having to take several painful steps – time off work for a visit, phoning to chase status, waiting on the insurer at every step.
It’s no wonder customer satisfaction in insurance is extremely low, when compared with other industries.
However, in common with say, luxury brands, that trade on personalised service and human interaction, the trick is to know when to introduce the human touch. An L2 Think Tank survey shows that 76% of luxury brands now feature online customer self-service, compared to just 19% in 2013.
So what does this mean for the “Uberisation” of insurance?
Making it easy for the customer
To find out more, I met up again with Paul Stanley. He told me, “an obvious starting point was customer reporting of claims. Using their own smartphone or tablet devices, we’ve given them the ability to share visual evidence of the claim being reported. Here’s the damage to the carpet, the car and so on.“
Making it easy for the customer is at the heart of Paul’s approach.
Customers are sent a link to the insurer’s website. This starts the process of the claim, guiding the customer through simple template-driven instructions. They can add a verbal narrative through voice recording to explain events, making it much easier for the claims handler to grasp the full picture.
The insurer receives the claim in minutes and kicks off a cascade of ‘events’ to satisfy the claim, either by sharing with the supply chain, for quotations, assessment, where necessary and can ask for more evidence or clarity from the customer, where needed.
Already, 360Globalnet’s self-service offering, called 360SelfServe, is a regular feature of several insurers and it’s making them extremely fleet of foot when it comes to claims processing.
- over 250,000 claims have been processed using its customer self-service products and what’s more, when given the option,
- 9 out of 10 customers select to self-service a claim using a mobile device.
In this model, customers soon cotton on that they have control and can dictate the pace of resolution. (The agency effect).
After going this route, customers score self-service 10 out of 10 for ease of use and one insurer has seen its NPS move to above 70, benchmarking it with First Direct, which scores consistently high marks for its online banking service.
In addition, settlement times are typically around 90 minutes, a far cry from the many weeks or months that a lot of us experience as the norm in insurance.
Making it easier for the insurer
This is not just a “win” for the customer. Insurers are seeing tangible benefits too.
Indemnity cost reductions of around 15% are reported as claims can be settled faster and with higher levels of accuracy. This is because of the nature of the visual verification they receive, which is a far cry from today’s commonplace claims reporting methods.
There are also major efficiency improvements from the Uberisation of the claims process and moving to the self-service model. Namely, in the area of a mobile workforce.
This is because some customers will need some human intervention.
(image source: Pexels)
This is borne out by the December 2015 Forrester Customer Lifecyle Survey. Whilst the survey shows a growing preference for online self-service, it also reports that assisted channels are still the leaders when it comes to customer satisfaction.
Uberisation of insurance agents
Paul explained how 360Globalnet approached this, “we realised that not all customers would feel comfortable with reporting their claims through self-service. Or in some cases, they would not be able to. For these customers, we set about building a network of self-employed, fully qualified insurance agents to assist with claims.
“Known in the UK as WithYouin5 and elsewhere as Pronto, the model means that a vetted representative, who lives local to the policyholder, will visit to report the claim on behalf of the policyholder, at a time to suit. Showing just how few of us want to take time off work for these incidents, most calls are serviced at weekends or out of work hours. “
To date, more than 100,000 claims have been settled via the WithYouin5 business model. Paul has applied the Uber model to insurance claims.
The result is a more flexible and responsive experience for customers.
And a more flexible and responsive operation for insurer.
Paul explained, ”We’ve been out to customers at times to suit them. Often before breakfast, after dinner or on a Bank Holiday. During times of extreme weather, the visit of a WithYouin5 agent has been very welcome to customers, especially those in more remote areas who would not normally be visited for many weeks.”
Using VideoTech to speed up complex claims
For more complex, higher value claims, and certainly more often for Commercial Lines, 360Globalnet also offers a live stream video option. Using their proprietary tech solution, events can be streamed from the site of the incident, back to the claims handler and other experts, in different locations. 360Globalnet’s own digital streaming platform is integrated with their other products and services, which ties together the collection of evidence with the efficient settlement of a claim.
Mobile live streaming and VideoTech in the insurance claims process is a subject I’ve covered many times (see my back catalogue of InsurTech Weekly). It is a trend that is significantly reducing the cost to service more complex claims, saving costs for insurers and faster resolution for customers.
Digital consumers expect a better experience
When people ask me to define InsurTech, the short answer is simple, “It’s all about the customer!” (For the long answer read the 60 plus posts I’ve written over the past 18 months.)
Whether you define InsurTech as a technology provider to insurers, or as a new breed of digital insurance company, the one characteristic that defines them all is putting the customer fair and square at the centre of insurance. This is the Amazon approach that will lead to the uberisation of insurance.
And 360Globalnet are totally on the money with this one.
To put the customer at the heart of the insurance claim and take the claims experience into the realm of online retail is bearing fruit for the US and UK insurers who have adopted 360Globalnet.
“It isn’t just millennials that are using this technology”, Paul told me. “In fact, the option to use self-service is popular with a wide cross-section of people. We are now seeing real customer empowerment in this space.”
360Globalnet also participated in our webinar “Insurance Through the Eyes of the Customer“. To hear what they had to say on the topic, you can access the webinar replay here and also view our Video InView on them.
P.S. As a further endorsement of Paul Stanley’s vision for the insurance industry, 360Globalnet recently announced a strategic relationship with global next-generation IT services provider CSC..
The author, Rick Huckstep, is an InsurTech thought leader and editor of InsurTech Weekly for The Digital Insurer.