The Beatles got it right: We can get by with a littlehelp from our friends. For California Casualty,achieving the goal of customer engagement was realized by combiningthe business intelligence of J.D. Power, a globalmarketing information services company providing performanceimprovement, social media and customer satisfactioninsights, with the flexibility of the Guidewire platform. An "Auto ClaimsSatisfaction Study" conducted by J.D. Power in 2014 confirms it.Among the results, the survey showed that CaliforniaCasualty: 

  • Rated among the top two in an first notice of loss (FNOL) indexrating (28 points above the industry average)
  • Now completes more than one-half of FNOL calls in 15 minutes orfewer
  • Performs better than the industry FNOL average rating inaddressing four or more services within 15 minutes

It all started with a new core system

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After years of relying on three different systems, CaliforniaCasualty standardized on a brand-new core system from Guidewire in2008. Out of the box, the system did just fine. It wasn't untilCalifornia Casualty engaged with J.D. Power in 2009 that thetechnology's real potential was realized. Chip Lackey, seniordirector at J.D. Power, and James Kauffman, senior vice presidentof claims at California Casualty, began by examining thestep-by-step process of a claim and identifying the various areaswhere satisfaction was either increased or decreased. The FNOLprocess emerged as a key area.

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Related: What KPIs should you be tracking?

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"We found that what goes on during the first notice of loss isthe cornerstone for the whole mosaic of a claim," said Lackey. "Itdetermines how cost-effectively a claim is settled, and is also aprimary driver of how satisfied a claimant is with his or herinsurer."

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Workflow

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(Image: Shutterstock.com)

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California Casualty learned from J.D. Power's research that claimants tend to bemore satisfied when their FNOL call lasts fewer than 15minutes. Claimants are also more satisfied when the claimsprofessional accomplishes a lot during those 15 minutes, such asmaking a rental car reservation, clearly explaining coverage,assessing material damages and conducting initialdata-gathering.

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Related: A day in the life of a claim: the initiationphase

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Once the data was gathered, Lackey and Kauffman took a look atthe process flow as it related to the system. It was determinedthat flexibility was key to creating a claimant-friendly workflowusing technology that allows the claims professional to focus onthe claimant and not just fill in boxes and check-off tasks.California Casualty's claims professionals now take cues from thetechnology about what to ask and when. In essence, the technologyremoves this burden from the claims professionals, walking themthrough what they must ask during the entire FNOL process so theycan focus on the claimant by showing empathy, answering questions,and making sure the claimant knows he or she is a valuedcustomer.

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The system also allowed California Casualty to reduce its FNOLscreens from eight to five, and embedded the recorded statement aspart of the FNOL process. All this made California Casualty'sclaims professionals more effective, which contributed to areduction in FNOL call times and subsequent improvement in overallclaimant satisfaction.

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"The technology had to free claims professionals from the burdenof navigating multiple screens," said Kauffman. "If we had atechnology solution that wasn't easy and intuitive, it woulddistract claims professionals from being empathetic and showingconcern for the claimant's situation. They wouldn't be able toperform those soft skills that J.D. Power says are so importantbecause they'd be wrestling with and trying to make sense of anynumber of different screens instead."

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gold stars

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(Image: Shutterstock.com)

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And ended with FNOL as the foundationfor long-term customer engagement

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While claimant satisfaction was California Casualty's goal atthe outset, it became clear that the FNOL experience was anopportunity to go beyond satisfaction to achieve ongoing customerengagement.

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"Accidents are commonplace to claims people, but they're veryunusual for the public. People sometimes have only one or two in anentire lifetime," said Kauffman. "Improving the FNOL process forclaimants is an opportunity to be the one bright spot in anotherwise traumatic experience."

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Related: Here are the 10 factors that are reshaping theinsurance business in 2015

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The future holds even more advancements for California Casualtywith help from J.D. Power and the Guidewire platform. Lackey andKauffman plan to apply what they've learned and leverage the newcore system to consider the entire episode of the claim in thecontext of how the claimant wants his or her experience managed.There will be consideration for gender, age and profession, whereoperational and satisfaction data meet to achieve a common goal.The object is to obtain a balance in operational and satisfactionexcellence.

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If there's any key takeaway from this story, it's thatCalifornia Casualty stood to learn a lot from J.D. Power, and itstood to gain a lot from Guidewire. By leveraging the two together— combining data and a new core system — California Casualtyreally knocked it out of the park. For the insurer'sclaimants, the FNOL experience will never be the same (in a goodway).

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Susannah Adler is a seasoned freelance commercial andbusiness writer and editor, with over 20 years of experiencecovering business and technology. Formerly a Research Editor withGartner and a journalist, Susannah is based in the San FranciscoBay Area. 

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