Filed Under:Agent Broker, E&S/Specialty Business

3 ways insurers should prepare for large-scale events

Cities are preparing for New Year's celebrations around the world, while keeping watch for the many risks that accompany such events. (Photo: iStock)
Cities are preparing for New Year's celebrations around the world, while keeping watch for the many risks that accompany such events. (Photo: iStock)

In 2015, Munich’s world-famous Oktoberfest received 5.9 million visitors and the New York Marathon had over 50,000 participants and thousands more spectators.

From the moment you leave the comfort of your home country to attend an event with thousands, or even millions, of people, you run the risk for being injured or becoming ill.  

Events such as the Boston Marathon, Super Bowl, Tour de France and even New Year’s Eve celebrations provide entertainment and excitement for eventgoers, but they should still be aware of the risks they face when heading to events of this magnitude.

For travel medical insurance providers, large-scale events mean millions of policyholders run the risk of filing claims for any number of reasons. So, how can providers prepare for events where their policyholders are traveling?

First, prepare your claims and customer service departments for a higher-than-usual call volume and potential rise in claims. Next, educate policyholders on ways to reduce their risk of danger, and what to expect if they have to file a claim. Finally, use technology to streamline processes and provide information such as frequently asked questions like: Why was my claim denied or why am I receiving so many letters requesting more information? 

Related: Is the world getting riskier? Consumers and businesses disagree

customer service representative on phone

A good customer service experience can help keep an insured following a claim. (Photo: Shutterstock) 

1. Prepare customer service departments

When someone attends an event such asthe Final Four Championship, the Super Bowl, British Open or even a Formula One Race, there are a number of risks involved in attending. Insurers understand these risks as well. This is where preparing members of your claims and customer service departments for a potential rise in claims and calls is critical.

A higher-than-expected call volume can lead to increased customer dissatisfaction because of long wait times and a rise in employee frustration because of busier-than-usual workdays. How your company handles this can make or break the customer service experience for policyholders.

It may also determine if this is the first and last time they will purchase a policy, if they will exclusively use your company’s insurance when traveling abroad, or even recommend your company to friends and family.

Here are two simple yet practical customer service best practices:

  • Treat policyholders as individuals, not policy numbers.
  • Make first impressions lasting ones.

The customer relationship management experts at Thunderhead.com found that 20 percent of customers stop trusting a company after just one bad customer service experience and that 25 percent of customers said they would instantly switch to a competitor because of one negative customer service experience.

insurance claims form

Providing resources for policyholders and making the claims process as easy as possible helps prevent surprises later on. (Photo: Shutterstock)

2. Educate policyholders

Along with creating resources such as frequently asked questions, provide policyholders with resources on the claims process and how to file claims. Encourage them to read through policy documentation so they know what is and is not covered, since they may not be aware of the nuances of preexisting conditions and many other common exclusions.  

Take Oktoberfest for example. A number of travel medical insurance policies do not cover injuries sustained while intoxicated. This is where advising policyholders so they know the ins and outs of their policy is more than suggested.   

Lastly, if policyholders file a claim, advise them to keep all official documentation and any receipts for expenses incurred as a result of illness or injury. Some insurers will pay for medical expenses up front. Others require the claimant to pay for medical expenses initially, and then file for reimbursement.

Making sure they understand your claims process is paramount, so educate them on things like coinsurance, discount cards for medications, and in-network vs. out-of-network providers, as this may directly affect their trip should they get injured or become ill.

young woman using laptop computer

Today's techology allows policyholders to report and track the progress of their claims, providing instant access to critical information. (Photo: Shutterstock) 

3. Use technology to its fullest potential

Technology is frequently one of the best ways to streamline any process, and many insurance providers now allow policyholders to file claims online.

If your company currently offers online claims filing or even a mobile application ― ensure these processes are fully optimized. Check things like your online quote engine. Test to ensure they are user-friendly and read through your company website for accurate information. Making sure these technologies do not fail customers when they need them most can also make or break an experience for customers. 

Preparation on the part of the insurer and policyholder can make an unfortunate situation much easier to handle, especially when it occurs far from home.

Mark Carney is president and CEO of Tokio Marine HCC ― MIS Group, headquartered in Indianapolis.

Related: Class action alleges misleading marketing of travel insurance by American Airlines

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