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'How claims handlers can improve performance without having to boost headcount'

Claims handling professionals are under more pressure than ever, with customers and brokers expecting results in ever-shrinking timeframes

The market has become increasingly competitive and with customers and brokers expecting results in ever shrinking timeframes, claims handling professionals are under more pressure than ever

Market surveys have shown slow response times are a major challenge for claims brokers, with these brokers expressing frustration they are often unable to get a response from claims handlers, which can lead to considerable delays in the claims process.

Feedback from market surveys shows Chaucer’s claims handlers are rated highly and viewed as know­ledgeable and efficient throughout the claims process. How have we managed to overcome challenges in the market and what have we learned along the way?

In our experience, brokers and clients are mainly happy as long as they are kept in the loop. If they are unable to find out who is handling their claim or get an update on its status then satisfaction levels will in­evitably drop. Communicating with our clients and brokers at each step in the claims process has helped us to effectively manage expectations. Each of our claims handlers works towards a set of key performance indicators, which include response times.

In addition to communicating with clients, Chaucer’s policy – in which claims handlers cover at least two distinct lines of insurance – has also helped keep customer satisfaction levels high.

Having people trained in two lines of business is beneficial for business continuity purposes. For example, if one line of insurance becomes unsustainable, claims handlers are able to focus on their other area of specialism. If a certain line of insurance sees an uptick in claims activity, extra resources can be deployed easily. It also means when someone is on annual leave or off sick, another colleague is able to pick up a claim in their absence. This has served to significantly reduce handling times, enabling Chaucer to process claims with minimal delays.

 

Training and upskilling

Claims adjusters at Chaucer are required to maintain levels of “claims per employee”. They are also encouraged to dedicate a certain amount of hours a year to attending lectures, industry events and presentations to ensure they keep up levels of industry knowledge. Even as we continue to operate in a hybrid model of working, we are having intensive training in the office and opening up meetings to more junior members of staff to help increase their exposure to the business and their knowledge.

Remuneration is also closely linked to performance. Claims adjusters receive bonuses that are linked both to their individual performance and that of the company as a whole. This ensures each individual is incentivised not only to perform to the best of their ability but to do everything in their power to ensure the team delivers results to our clients.

Some people prefer to work outside the standard 9 am to 5 pm hours to fulfil childcare commitments, for example, which means they are available outside traditional working hours and can respond to claims as they come in

Another factor that has played a part in developing Chaucer’s claims offering has been its apprenticeship scheme, in which newly graduated recruits are paired up with senior claims adjusters. The scheme, which has been in place for a decade, has helped to train new joiners, ensuring they benefit from the wealth of experience of more senior colleagues.

In addition to helping to develop skills among new recruits and create a new generation of claims handlers, the scheme has enabled senior members of the team to put in place succession plans. It has also had a positive impact on morale, as senior claims handlers feel a sense of achievement from helping new joiners build up experience and become more seasoned professionals. Overall, the programme has been such a success that Chaucer continues to enjoy high levels of retention among these new graduates. Overall, the average tenure of a professional within our claims handling team is 10 years.

 

Flexible working

Embracing flexible working has been another key way in which Chaucer has improved its claims handling service. Even before Covid staff were able to work from home, which meant when the pandemic hit, employees were already set up to work remotely and were able to make the shift seamlessly.

Giving managers the latitude to set their team’s working hours and enabling staff to determine whether they work from the office or from home has significantly boosted morale. This flexibility in working patterns has also improved response times. Some people prefer to work outside the standard 9 am to 5 pm hours to fulfil childcare commitments, for example, which means they are available outside traditional working hours and can respond to claims as they come in.

Attracting and retaining the best talent has been a particular priority for Chaucer. To avoid high levels of attrition, the firm ensures employees benefit from having a robust performance development plan. As part of this, they receive feedback not just from their direct managers but also from more senior colleagues throughout the group.

The market has become increasingly competitive and with customers and brokers expecting results in ever-shrinking timeframes, claims handling professionals are under more pressure than ever. By offering mentorship programmes, variety in workload, clear career paths and flexible working, Chaucer has enjoyed high levels of engagement and retention amongst claims handling employees. This has helped the firm establish and maintain strong relationships with brokers and clients, ensuring open lines of communication and better quality of service.

 

Tony Gates is global head of claims at Chaucer

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