Claims Technology Q&A: Adjusters Become More Specialized

The first in a series of Q&A discussions with claims executives. This discussion begins with Gary Givler, vice president and manager, claims operations, at The Cincinnati Insurance Companies.

How is technology streamlining the claims process at your company and, in your opinion, in the industry as a whole?

Gary Givler, Cincinnati Insurance: At most insurance carriers, Web-based, integrated claims administration systems have shortened claim lifecycles by taking communications, documentation, information requests, reporting and system maintenance tasks away from claims handlers. This has freed up industry claims handlers to be more accurate and productive. At the same time, Web-based estimating applications have added consistency and driven out leakage for many auto and property lines writers.

Insurers are making further gains with software applications that allow close vendor integrations, manage legal expenses and make use of repricing networks.

Both carriers and policyholders have benefited from software that:

  • detects fraud patterns
  • provides faster and more consistent answers to information requests
  • enables direct access to claims status
  • creates claim payments automatically

Real-time systems that can access corporate data stores make automated reporting of insurance product performance readily available to actuaries and underwriters. And now, new mobile applications hold out the promise of increased customer satisfaction as well as reduced costs and premiums.

Are these technologies changing the way adjusters do their jobs? Are adjusters focusing their attention/time on different tasks as a result?

Givler: At Cincinnati Insurance, we believe that service sells insurance and have consequently focused on removing clerical and repetitive tasks from field adjusters while at the same time enhancing their ability to provide cost-effective, onsite services. Technologically empowered adjusters better meet the expectations of our policyholders and move things along faster. They provide the best value when making decisions and working with people. Efficient operations involve focusing adjusters on these higher order tasks and eliminating all distractions and impediments to claims resolutions.

Is the role of the adjuster changing with your company? Are there issues the industry needs to face concerning the quality and experience of adjusters?

Givler: The traditional all lines adjuster role, once common in the industry, has given way to specialization by line of business or segment of the adjustment process. These new positions require unprecedented customer management skills and relevant educational backgrounds. At Cincinnati Insurance, our objective is to hire and train associates who can manage any situation that they encounter and settle claims on the spot.

Has there been a fundamental shift in regard to the value that insurers attach to mobile technologies or the ways in which these tools are used?

Givler: Mobile technology devices are a combination of hardware, operating systems, networking and software and have been employed by various insurers to do everything from information access to booking new business. Five years ago, we furnished our field claims representatives with card-enabled tablets that allowed us to expedite loss-related communications, revise assignment processes, manage catastrophe claims more effectively and collaborate more efficiently with our 4,200 company associates who serve and 1,500 agency locations in 39 states.

What kind of feedback do you receive concerning customer satisfaction with the claims process?

Givler: According to several recent industry articles, excellent claims service is a key factor agents use to determine which carriers they want to represent.  We agree with this research given our experience working with independent agents. As further proof, we offer this letter that an Alabama agent shared with us from his Cincinnati policyholder client:

I am consistently approached by companies who wish to save me money on insurance, but the real measure of insurance is the service and professionalism extended when a claim is reported.  Thanks to your agency and The Cincinnati Insurance Company, solicitation for my business by others is an exercise in futility.”

How satisfied are you with your claims administration system? What areas work best?

Givler: The Web-based claims administration system that we implemented seven years ago has more than met our goals for expediting claims financials, supporting disaster recovery, providing operational cost control, managing loss information and streamlining our processes and reporting. It has proven to be easy to change and upgrade as requirements change over time. 

How often do you reexamine your processes to determine their quality? Any examples of changes you have made recently?

Givler: We do not wait for the official quality reviews that we conduct every six months to act upon changes that offer a better or more efficient way to do things. Recently, we automated payments to several large-volume service vendors and workers’ compensation filings to the State of Missouri, allowing us to reassign four full-time associates to more value-added tasks.

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