Why outsource claims?

November 27, 2009

Funny you should ask!

Bankstone’s Dickon Tysoe has penned a most instructive article for the current edition of acclaimed insurance industry organ  Broker’s Monthly addressing precisely that inquiry.

Want to know what it says? Read on!

Reducing overheads, enhancing customer service, strengthening your brand. If any of those appeal, you might want to consider outsourcing your First Notification of Loss (FNOL) service to a specialist claims handling company.

Outsourcing FNOL can deliver all of those benefits – but first you need to find the right claims-handling partner. Brokers have traditionally – and rightly – been wary of entrusting their customers to a third party. But keeping claims in house can be expensive and isn’t necessarily the best route for you or your customers.

If you are thinking about outsourcing – and it is certainly worth considering – choose your partner with care. The company you choose should have skilled customer-focussed claims handlers, They should also have a technology platform that give you ready access to the information you need to understand the impact of claims impact on your business and to manage your claims handling partner effectively.

The right provider will be able to take on all aspects of your claims whilst ensuring that you retain managerial control and fulfil your TCF obligations. They should handle all your claims calls and all postal communication – allowing you to reassign staff to income-generating activities.

One potential advantage of outsourcing is being able to extend the hours during which you offer your customers a claims service. So make sure the firm you choose offers extended working hours. The right partner may also be able to provide you with the option of taking your calls temporarily should your phone lines or systems ever go down.

Look for a firm that will work with you to minimise notification times, maximise your return from income-generating claims, and allow your panel insurers to maximise their intervention opportunities, thus improving the profitability of your insurer accounts.

The right partner should also be able to demonstrate that they have an effective strategy in place for minimising claims leakage to other organisations, such as recovery operators bodyshops and claims management companies, over whom you have no control and from whom you obtain no income.

They should be ready and able to work with you to ensure that your panel insurers receive prompt and accurate data in a format that minimises their administration costs. Equally, you need to be confident that you will always have the information you need to manage your relationship with your insurers – including a full suite of management information (MI) reports. These should offer reports tailored to your specific MI needs – whether in terms of controlling claims costs or understanding their impact on the different policy types in your portfolio.

Outsourcing can also be a way for brokers to enhance customer service without sacrificing control over the claims process. For most types of personal lines policies – including home, car, motorcycle, taxi, caravan, commercial vehicle, pet and travel insurance – you should be able to find a service provider who will handle all FNOL aspects of a claim including external post and contact with the third party.

Consistent service is key. Your service provider should be able to handle all your claims in a consistent manner. If you have a panel of 10 insurers, each will handle claims in a slightly different way. Your outsourced claims partner should be able to “homogenise” the service your customers receive to a uniformly high standard – regardless of which insurer you have placed them with.

A typical broker’s book might have an incident rate of something like 10%. Simplistically, that means the average customer can be expected to claim once every ten years. Clearly, the way claims were handled 10 years ago is very different to how they are handled today. So your selected partner should employ claims handlers who understand this, who treat each customer with respect and empathy, and can manage their expectations appropriately. They will also be fully up to date with the latest changes insurers have made to their processes.

Technology is another key consideration. From the minute a claim is reported, you should expect to have real-time online access, and thus the ability to take a view on whether it is something you would want to get involved with directly. Outsourcing should absolutely not mean distancing yourself from an awareness of what claims your customers are making. Indeed, for many brokers it can significantly enhance this understanding.

Every broker is different. Each has their own specific requirements, particularly in niche sectors of the market. This is precisely where a good claims handling firm excels, offering you the ability to work closely with your underwriters when developing new schemes while retaining close control over service standards and costs.

At the beginning of this article we flagged up the issue of brand. Many claims handling companies now offer an own-branded service. This can and should include everything from answering the telephone in your company name to branded stationery for all correspondence.

An own-branded service can give your customers the comfort of dealing with a trusted name at the time of an incident and deliver a service consistent with your brand values and service offering.

If the customer perception is that they are dealing directly with you, they will quite naturally expect the person to whom they are talking to know all their details. The only way to achieve this is to select a claims-handling partner who can access your customers’ policy records seamlessly, via a link into your software house.

This allows call-handlers to verify customer details directly from your records, transfer this data into their claims-handling system, and be discussing the details of the claim within seconds of answering the phone. Another advantage of this approach is its potential for providing insurers with details of incidents along with full policy records – especially important with delegated scheme business.

Above all, choose a partner who offers all of its clients a high standard of account management, personal attention and innovation. Look for a firm that makes the effort to understand your brand, your business model, and your marketing strategy – one with the eagerness and the understanding to contribute to your business success on a broad front. And don’t forget to ask for evidence of customer-satisfaction feedback. After all, you need to be sure your customers will be getting a service at least as good as you would give them yourself!

November 27, 2009

It was just another Friday morning at Bankstone News. I fixed myself a coffee and fired up Post Mag’s video news wrap. Which poor sap’s blinking at the lens this week, I wondered.

Then – boom – there she was. I was looking at some kind of angel. Jagged pixelation couldn’t stop me falling into those warm dark auto-cueing eyes.

Then reality pulled me back with a jerk. What was she saying?

Barbon on the rocks. Broker hit with massive fine. Fraud. Scandal. I blinked. I reeled. I clicked pause in a hurry.

This was no ordinary Friday. I needed more coffee. I fixed it strong.

Back at the screen, I tried again. “I’m Amy Ellis,” she purred, those gorgeous lips only slightly out of sync. My senses began to swim.

But then – wham – there it was again. The High Court has found Barbon Insurance liable to pay £8m, plus costs, plus interest, relating to an alleged mortgage fraud case involving Nationwide Building Society back in 2006.

This one needed looking into. But first I needed a coffee. Make that a double.

I hit the archives. Barbon Insurance. The Windscale of insurance broking. Formerly known as Erinaceous Group. So where’d they get that Barbon tag?

I dusted down another volume. Dr Nicholas Barbon aka Unless-Jesus-Christ-Had-Died-For-Thee-Thou-Hadst-Been-Damned Barebone (sic). Picked up the crazy name from his old man, some kind of religious nut. Set up as a quack doc over in Holland. Got into property back in London. Set up some insurance company in the 1600s. Figures, I thought.

But Erinaceous? I let the pages fall through my fingers. C, D, E. Erinaceous: adjective, zoology: of the hedgehog kind or family. A picture began to form. It didn’t look pretty.

I had to find a way of warning Amy what she was getting into. But first I needed coffee. A lot of coffee.

November 27, 2009

“This nation’s automotive heritage is quite literally being thrown on the scrap heap,” warns Forsythe De’tol Life President and Founder of Vintage Autos Group.

Yet another dark facet to the Government’s scrappage scheme was recently revealed when Chelmsford dealer Bill Cook rescued a classic 1967 Rose Taupe 1098cc Morris Minor Traveller from the very jaws of the crusher after its cash-strapped owner traded it in for a measly £2k.

To save the woody from its cruel fate, Cook paid the scrappage allowance out of his own pocket. Now he’s auctioning it in aid of Children In Need. The auction ends shortly after 3pm today (271109).

The 1098cc Morris Minor Traveller is an estate model which famously mimicked classic American cars with its wood-framed rear end.

Bankstone News is a weekly email “news”letter which infamously insults its readers with a diet of half digested stories “borrowed” from more reputable sources or just plain makes them up.

Forsythe De’tol was not available for comment.

November 27, 2009

Bankstone News is indebted, as that smug old bloke in the leather armchair used to say on telly, to the Daily Telegraph for the following story.

Tory health spokesman Lord McColl has proposed an ingenious solution to the hazard posed to unwary pedestrians – visually impaired ones in particular – by near-silent electric cars (and hybrids at low speeds).

The offending vehicles, he claims, should be required to carry cow bells to give pedestrians fair warning of their approach.

Raising the issue with Transport Secretary Lord Adonis, Lord McColl said that when he purchased a Toyota Prius “my wife, being very practical, said that the answer would be to put on the front of the car a small Swiss cowbell.”

Labour peer Lord Grenfell meanwhile suggested that a “better solution” might be a man with a red flag walking in front of the car. Clearly, Lord G hankers for the good old days before 1896 when the speed limit rose from 4 mph to 20 and the red flag man ceased to be a legal requirement.

Intrigued by the cow bell suggestion, however, the Torygraph contacted Lord McColl for further details. “I have a Prius,” he confirmed, “and people can’t always hear it, and a little cow bell might do the trick.

“It doesn’t even have to be Swiss,” he conceded reasonably. “It should be something which makes a gentle bing bong.”

Quite so!

November 27, 2009

Axa has been totting up its business insurance claims data and can now reveal… that the UK’s number-one business crime hotspot is… – fumbles with envelope – Halifax!

But if you’re looking for a really hot spot bizcrime-wise look no further than arson-capital Kilmarnock where delinquents keep their spirits up through the long chilly winters by torching local businesses and/or despairing would-be entrepreneurs torch their own with whisky for propellant.

Want to handle something hot? You could do worse than Wolverhampton (not a phrase you often hear), where – Axa’s “Business Crime Index” suggests – businesses are most at risk from theft.

Not content with a simple top 20 (Halifax, Manchester, Bristol, Croydon, London Southside, Northampton, London EC, Oldham, Sutton, Bradford, Doncaster, Wakefield, Doudleh, Enfield, Liverpewel, Wigan, Motherwell, Walsall, St Albans, Southall, if you must know) Axa’s press people add broader socio-economic commentary with the claim that areas hit hardest by the current economic crisis (e.g. The North and West Midlands) are suffering as people turn to crime.

Not content with that, they deftly apply the currently obligatory seasonal twist with the claim that “As retail businesses increase stock levels for Christmas it provides richer pickings for thieves. As takings rise and shops stay open longer, the potential for lucrative hold-ups also increases.” Meanwhile “drunken revelry can lead to malicious damage or even arson attacks.”

So if you’re reading this in Kilmarnock get your hose out!

November 20, 2009

Independent insurance broker Oakland Insurance Services has signed up Bankstone to provide a full-service white-labelled external claims handling service to its clients.

Oakland Proprietor Martin Child comments: “Our first priority is to deliver the highest possible standard of service to our clients. Bankstone impressed us as people we could rely on to treat our clients with the same care and attention we would ourselves.

“A major attraction was their ability to extract key client data instantly and seamlessly from our system via SSP, allowing their claims handlers to get straight into the detail of a claim without asking lots of questions first or keeping clients waiting.”

Bankstone director Dickon Tysoe adds: “I am delighted Oakland have chosen Bankstone. Oakland and their clients will benefit from our market-leading technology platform, our state of the art online claims facilities, and our team’s exceptional knowledge and experience. I’m confident we can add real value by helping Oakland maximise customer satisfaction and client retention as well as reducing operational costs.”

About Oakland Insurance

Oakland Insurance Services was established in October 1998 and has rapidly grown into a successful player in the commercial vehicle insurance market. An independent insurance broker, Oakland Insurance is not tied to any one insurer and can offer policies from a range of different insurers. Oakland offers a comprehensive range of Insurance products including Motor, Household and Commercial.

November 19, 2009

“I always feel like – somebody’s watching me,” confessed Michael Jackson on the ploddingly paranoid tune of that name by long-forgotten Berry Gordy progeny Rockwell, “and I have no privacy, oh-oh, oh-oh!”

Had Messers Jackson and Rockwell lived in late-noughties Bolton, they might well have had a point. Unwitting drivers and pedestrians in Reebokton, as it will officially be known from next year, will now have their daily comings and goings – or at least some of the more incriminating fragments thereof – preserved as digital motion images.

In a move that smacks of Orwell’s or perhaps of Channel 4’s Big Brother – take your pick – Bolton council has decided to bolt video cameras on to the headgear of its meter people. Parking wardens throughout the Borough are to be the UK’s first fully video-enabled TEO squad.

In a masochistic reversal of the disturbing modern phenomenon of happy slapping, whereby delinquent teens record themselves assaulting others, Bolton’s traffic officers will be able to rewind and freeze-frame themselves as they are verbally and physically assaulted by irate Boltonians aggrieved at getting ticketed.

A lucrative TV deal could yet result, as the past three years’ crop of incidents has included 53 ‘code reds’ in which members of the public have physically assaulted, spat at, or driven their cars at wardens.

Councillor Ismail Ibrahim, Bolton Council’s “Executive Member” for Environmental Services, said: ‘The fact that they are being filmed on camera should hopefully make people think twice.” Surely a laudable aim by any means.

The cameras, he said, “will also be crucial in gathering evidence. Often it can boil down to one person’s word against another. We will now have the video evidence to help clear up any doubts.”

The argument, as with all forms of video surveillance, no doubt goes something like this: if you are not doing anything wrong, how could you possibly object?

November 18, 2009

“Lady cab driver,” the artist then still known as Prince used to request back in the day, “can U take me 4 a ride?” New statistics unveiled by Monkeysupermarket.com appear to confirm that Mr Prince was wise to opt for a female driver.

Supermarketman Sweeney Steve (who comes from Iceland, fact fans*) has rashly waded into the bitter debate on which sex drives best by having his minions scan six million motor quotes to find that men pay 71% more than women – ergo they must be worse.

“Many insurance companies view women as being safer and more mature in the way they drive,” says sweet-talking Steve with a lyrical lilt. “This is why their premiums are not only cheaper but also decrease with age at a much faster rate than those of men.”

If motor insurers’ calculations can be trusted, teenage males are quite spectacularly worse drivers than teenage females. Average bloke, 18, pays £2,318.83 a year – 87% more than he might if he were female. Though the premium gap narrows with age, falling to around 20% by the time drivers are in their 50s, it never disappears.

But do the statistics really show that men are worse drivers than women? Or just that men make more claims? Or maybe that men – whilst generally excellent drivers – are paying the price for being go-getting risk-takers who like to live life in the fast lane and take it to the limit and generally do things likely to have been sung about by 70s folk-rock supergroup The Eagles.

Let’s face it, bad driving – particularly that of the type favoured by females – can still be very bad even when no claims ensue: cue video evidence.

Men, meanwhile, have a well-recognised talent for making expensive claims. Men like the Texan who drove his million-dollar Bugatti Veyron (pictured) into a salt marsh near Galveston last week – blaming a low-flying pelican for his momentary lapse of attention.

*The frozen peas people, as opposed to the land of the ice and snow, of the midnight sun, where the hot springs blow.

November 18, 2009

Partnering: there’s a lot of it about these days. Too much, some prudes might argue. But not Bankstone News. No, we say: it’s a free country, live and let live, whatever rocks your boat – that kind of thing.

So it was with no reaction more pronounced that a half-raised eyebrow of ironically indulgent amusement that we learned this week that Hastings has allowed itself to be partnered by none other than Helphire.

“We are delighted to be partnering with Hastings Insurance Services,” luxuriated Helphire MD Martin Ward. Now he says he is looking forward very much “to working with them to provide accident management services to their motor customers.”

Before Hastings gave its assent to the partnering in question, Helphire apparently faced stiff competition and had to beat off other potential partnerers to secure pole position. Having done so, the Bath-based outfit will be able to deploy some of its massive fleet to provide replacement vehicles for Hastings policyholders when they have non-fault accidents.

Memorably, Mr Ward told Post Magazine that he believes Helphire won their fight for the right to partner because of “the high levels of customer service that we are committed to providing and which enable both our partners and their customers to benefit from new business arrangements such as this.”

Hastings seem happy enough with the terms on which they are being partnered by Helphire. A spokesperon apparently unwilling to be named told the same leading insurance journal: “The company has demonstrated a product offering that clearly addresses the needs of our customers and is committed to adapting to the changing needs of the marketplace.”

Made in heaven, as they say.

November 17, 2009

The nonsense PR people come up with these days! A perennial favourite with companies in the motor sector when all other inspiration fails is “something to do with star signs.” The latest to announce the findings of its research into this fascinatingly unscientific topic is “The UK’s leading used car hypermarket” Carcraft.

Its analysis of which (second hand) cars people with different star signs bought has proved beyond doubt that flashy Aries people buy red Mazda MX5s or bright yellow Saab convertibles, Sagitarians buy 4x4s or “muscular MPVs” to accommodate their “free spirit and sense of adventure” and eccentric Aquarians by Ford Kas or Minis.

And, of course, they have the cast-iron peer-reviewed research to prove it. Possibly. Somewhere.

If only all zodiac-inspired news stories could be as well-researched and factual as Bankstone News’ report of 1 April 2009.

In the meantime we’re working on a story the press is sure to lap up about the correlation between car-owners’ long-term health problems and the vehicles they drive. Something along the lines of people with bowel disorders opt for Ford Mondeos, those with arthritis favour Micras – that sort of thing. Just sifting through the research findings now.

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All my questions regarding my claim were answered in full and in a very clear and concise manor. I was impressed with the help provided to ease my mind.
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