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A New Twist on Claims Outsourcing

—November 01, 2013
A New Twist on Claims Outsourcing

By Greg Horn, Vice President of Industry Relations, Mitchell

Outsourcing has been a part of the insurance industry for about a decade. When people in claims hear the word it conjures up images of overseas call centers and image scanning. Several companies have experimented with the outsourcing of simple claims handling as well, but the most common use seems to be assigning tasks to a call center with lower-cost employees. However, there are some key claims tasks that are being outsourced to new channels. These are aimed at reducing costs and increasing customer satisfaction, which have always been primary goals of outsourcing. Below are two examples of this new application.

More Participation from Insureds

How about outsourcing to the insureds themselves? I’m seeing the first evidence of this in the various companies that have phone applications that allow customers to report claims, diagram accident scenes and other important first notice of loss (FNOL) tasks. The next logical step would be to have the customer take photos of the damaged vehicle. In cases where the damage is minor, those photos could be sent to an appraiser to write an estimate from the photos and pay based on that estimate.

While some states prohibit that practice and require the estimator to physically inspect the vehicle, it would be a valid way to settle minor claims in most states. The interesting thing here is that many insureds welcome the opportunity to be involved in their claim handling. Many vehicle owners take photos at the scene of the accident now and provide good documentation of the accident scene and damages.

Mobile Repair Services

The second example I’ve seen is to outsource the repair to a mobile service. In the U.S., we are accustomed to sending mobile services to install glass or replace stolen radios or air bags. But in the United Kingdom, insurers have bypassed the traditional collision repair shop by using a mobile repair services with paint capabilities. These mobile vans have a retractable plastic ‘paint booth’ that allows for panel or bumper refinishing in a reduced dust environment. The van pulls up in the customer’s driveway or work parking lot and parks next to the damaged vehicle.

Like an awning on an RV, the van awning extends over the vehicle to be repaired and side curtains complete the booth. The driveway surface is sprayed down, and voilà: a mobile paint booth. Imagine the convenience of this type of repair for vehicle owners. They don’t have to bring the vehicle anywhere, the service comes to them.

These basic tasks are ripe for outsourcing. They would expedite the claim handling process and increase customer satisfaction, without the need to deal with the traditional outsourcing issues of time zones and language differences.

Published in Property Casualty 360, November 2013

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