Global firms have ‘advantage’ when tackling COVID-19


Global firms have ‘advantage’ when tackling COVID-19

The claims community has responded well to the challenges of 2020, despite all the limitations and pressures caused by COVID-19, according to Neil Harrison, global chief claims officer, Commercial Risk Solutions, Aon.

Harrison’s comments were made at Intelligent Insurer’s Claims Innovation USA virtual event on October 30.
Speaking to Harrison in the opening fireside chat, moderator Cathy Ellwood, founder of Ellwood Enterprises, said that over the past few months she had noticed that some companies have coped with COVID-19, while others have struggled—and that surely the insurance industry should be better prepared than most others to deal with catastrophes?

She commented that some companies had thought about disasters such as pandemics in advance and had shown genuine agility and leadership.

The global edge

“As a global firm we had an advantage,” Harrison replied. “When the pandemic first became apparent, we learned lessons in Asia. As a result of that when the pandemic spread to Europe and then to North and Latin America we had seen how it played out.

“We knew what we needed to do to protect our colleagues, to make sure that people’s health was looked after and how to interact with our clients efficiently.”

Harrison explained that the company had pushed ahead with internal projects such as mentoring up-and-coming talent via online meetings. He conceded that it wasn’t as effective as in-person meetings, but he stressed the value of such projects in what has been a unique year—adding that in 2021 the mentoring project would be not just continued but doubled in size.

He added that it was important to take a fully-rounded approach to COVID-19—the pandemic would have multiple waves in many places at different times and it was important to be as agile as possible and view things from the standpoint of the client.

“What we’re seeing from most carriers is a flight to quality and we see opportunity,” he said. “There is increased interest in the upper echelons of organisations, above and beyond the risk manager, in what insurance does. The question then becomes how do we carry or deploy capacity to meet the needs that are material to all organisations at that level? How do we deploy underwriting capacity for today’s risks?”

Harrison underlined that most standard property policies don’t cover business interruption (BI) caused by COVID-19—but some do and the market has to work through these claims.

He said the market has seen a reaction in terms of the use of exclusionary language, especially in terms of defining exactly what a pandemic is, which can be helpful.

“The insurance industry has to look at BI coverage in some detail, in order to bring certainty to this area of the market. Clarity of language was a key issue for the industry,” he added.

Insurtech insights

The next part of the session was a series of videos of insurtech products. The first featured Matt Wood, chief executive officer of 10 Mile Solutions, and was titled “Using nat cat intelligence to improve claims efficiency, your bottom line and the policyholder experience”, which looked at using technology to provide a fast assessment of damage to insured properties from natural catastrophes.

Vince O’Neill, executive vice president and head of sales at CHAMPtitles, presented a video titled “Automating the collection, validation and submission of documentation required to transfer vehicle ownership and obtain a salvage title in a total loss scenario”, which covered how the product provides one workstream that connects the carrier, the car owner and the state.

The third video was introduced by Pablo Martínez Bouret, sales manager of Bdeo, and was titled “Digitise the claims process thanks to artificial intelligence, gather qualified data, control fraud and automate the whole process”. In it he pointed out that up to 70 percent of motor and property claims can be digitised and automated via uploaded and verifiable 360 pictures of the damaged car or property.

The final video was presented by Frank Golden, business development at Airkit, and was titled “Discover how a Fortune 50 insurer shrank a digital transformation CX initiative from 10 years to six months, gaining $10 million+ in premiums per year.” He explained how Airkit uses low-code software, which has a faster time to the market, adopts easily and has higher engineering productivity.

Ellwood closed the session with some comments that stressed how technology is changing elements of insurance, such as automating areas that in the past few thought would be affected.

“Everyone is now recognising that the more you digitise, the more you automate, the better you can serve your customer,” Ellwood concluded.

“The pandemic has created a sense of urgency about automating. If you want to compete, you have to be digital. These are opportunities that all companies can embrace and enable.

“The biggest opportunity is recognising that every single person in your organisation can and will change when they are forced to do so.

“When you give them the right technology with the right boundaries broken you’ve removed the bureaucracy and allowed them to do what they do best—they can serve their customers and do amazing things.”

To watch the full session, titled ‘The impact of COVID-19 on commercial claims: solve the coverage challenges around business interruption’, on-demand, click here to visit the Claims Innovation USA virtual event website.

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