Improving the insurance claims process.

Have you ever made an insurance claim? If you have, the chances are something important to you was lost, damaged or stolen.

That’s why the way a claim is handled is so important – an efficient, friendly service will reassure you in your time of need.

Claims handlers are a real-life touchpoint for customers making insurance claims so it’s really important that they make the process easy for each and every customer. Therefore,  systems used by claims teams to manage communications are critical for insurers.

In Europe the insurance industry is huge, (*premiums total over Euros 1,300bn) and the Ageas group looks after the insurance needs of over 37,000,000 customers. About 5 million of those customers are in the UK.

The problem

The Ageas IT team in the UK spotted an opportunity to further improve its service for customers making insurance claims. 

When an email isn’t delivered there’s often a ‘bounce back’ or undeliverable message returned from the destination mail server.  For Ageas, the negative impact of these inbound undeliverable messages was felt in more than one way. 

James Viney, Programme Manager for Ageas UK was IT Manager at the time. He explained: “Our process is set up so that every claim is handled smoothly from the first time a customer calls. From that first conversation, customers  shouldn’t need to call again as we keep them up-to-date about their claim by email.

“Emails bouncing back increased the workload of the claims team and undermined the accuracy of management reports.”

What was causing the problem?

The use of email has grown exponentially, with email addresses expected to reach over **4bn by 2023.  More and more people are juggling multiple email addresses. It’s not unusual for people to have accounts for work, home, family and friends and sometimes just ‘junk’ accounts for online shopping or news feeds. 

The root of the problem was that when customers got in touch by phone to make a claim, the contact details they gave were sometimes inaccurate. People can understandably be stressed when they are calling to make a claim, and it is easy to give the wrong details. A simple thing like an email typo, or giving a stale email address would set the claims process onto the wrong track.

James was well aware of the impact the problem was causing. “Customers need to feel reassured and that they are in safe hands. Processes simply have to work, so when a claims handler says, ‘I’ll send you the form by email’ that form just has to arrive.”

The solution

The principle of email verification is straightforward, so it was logical that James’ first step was to create a system to deal with the bounce backs. 

Email verification at speed and at scale is a complex, specialist process though. As James puts it: “I wrote a basic email verification system, but soon realised I needed to find outside expertise.’

After comparing systems and testing a number of services, Email Hippo was chosen to provide real-time email verification.

‘It was just obvious that the accuracy was far better than anything else we’d experienced and that Email Hippo was a company we could do business with.’

The MORE API was integrated into the UK claims system and on-screen messages and prompts were written that were result-dependent.

The result

The impact was immediate and positive from day one.  

As email addresses were typed into the system they were checked and errors were flagged up in milliseconds whilst the customer was still on the phone. It enabled call handlers to check details there and then. The claims team had the right tool in place to improve accuracy and take uncertainty from their processes. 

It’s the goal of Ageas to make insurance easy for every customer. 

James said: “The installation of MORE changed the customer journey for the better.”

Lost time has been massively reduced, allowing the claims team to work more effectively which ultimately can only have a positive impact on the overall performance of the business.

By recognising the root of a problem and focusing on the right solution, Ageas has found a way to place value on the link between an email address and the real person at the end of it. 

*Insurance Europe 2020, ** Campaign Monitor 2020