Insurer Claim Handling Gets Some Poor Marks

National Underwriter News
May 24, 2005

An online customer satisfaction survey has found that on average 20 percent of Americans filing property-casualty claims were unhappy with the way claims were handled by their carrier.

Dissatisfaction was highest among claimants who were bounced about between claim handlers, according to the survey, released today by Bermuda-based Accenture consulting firm and and Walldorf, Germany-headquartered SAP business software company.

The survey covered claims activity during the past three years. The firms said their research found policyholders want the ability to check their claims status online.

Their findings, they said, followed online interviews last month with 582 Americans, aged 18 and older, who filed property-casualty insurance claims in the past three years.

According to the survey, 67 percent of respondents said they think it is important for their insurance companies to provide the ability to check claim status on the Internet.

The polling discovered, not surprisingly, that consumers' dissatisfaction with claims service increased significantly with the number of claims representatives they had to speak with during the course of their claims settlements.

Survey respondents who spoke to three or more people at their insurance companies during the course of claims were nearly five times as likely to be dissatisfied with their claims experience as those who spoke to only one or two claims personnel--49 percent versus 10 percent, the researchers found.

 Seventy-five percent of respondents said they would prefer to speak to only one person from their insurance companies about their claims.

The survey determined that respondents with more complex claims experiences were more likely to negatively rate their claims experiences.

Negative claims experience ratings were highest for claims that took more than 20 days to be resolved (40 percent compared with 20 percent overall); claims that resulted in recovery of less than half of their losses (28 percent); and claims that involved auto-related injuries (39 percent).

"Insurers need to continue to implement new automated claims technology to help further expedite the process and improve the customer experience," advised Michael Lucarini, a partner in Accenture's Insurance practice.

Mr. Lucarini added, "The most significant opportunities to improve claims customer satisfaction are reducing the carrier-to-customer interactions required to handle high-frequency, low-severity claims and keeping the customer more informed on longer, more-complex claims."

Peter MacPherson, vice president, insurance business unit, SAP America, Inc., said, with consumers demanding easier more efficient methods for filing their claims, innovative technology is crucial and “insurers who leverage the Internet as a tool for consumers to manage their claims will gain a competitive advantage as well as reduce their operational expenses." The survey also found that customers based their claims satisfaction levels on several elements, giving top priority to the perceived fairness of the settlement--selected as the top priority by 45 percent of respondents.

Next in importance was the responsiveness of claim representatives, according to 19 percent of respondents, and speed of the settlement, also 19 percent. Eighty-one percent of those polled said they would file claims online if it would expedite the claims settlement process. Seventeen percent of respondents said their claims experiences would keep them from referring their insurance companies to friends. The two most important concerns of respondents when settling p-c claims were that premiums would increase because of the claims (42 percent) and that they would not receive the full value of the claims (26 percent).

Results of the survey were announced at the 2005 ACORD LOMA Insurance Systems Forum in Orlando, Fla.

Accenture and SAP work together to help insurers and banks achieve the vision of an open standards-based architecture.

Copyright © 2005 by National Underwriter News

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