James Moorhouse looks at how insurers can obtain customer information in a less stressful way
The insurance application process can be long and difficult. For personal lines products, such as life and travel, personal information will need to be disclosed so that the insurer can assess the risk. While this information is essential to create an accurate customer profile, the way it is obtained could be improved.
Disclosing personal information can be a stressful experience for a customer, especially if related to their own medical history. While it is important to get as much accurate and up-to-date information as possible, there are some pieces of information that remain constant. If they have a permanent health condition, such as a chronic illness or poor mental health, then there should be no need to keep reiterating this to their insurer. So why do customers keep being asked the same questions?
When obtaining critical information for the first time, one method that insurance professionals can implement when talking to customers is the TEXAS model, as developed by the Money Advice Trust and Royal College of Psychiatrists. This consists of the following process when having a conversation with a customer:
- T – Thank the customer for telling you the information.
- E – Explain how the information will be used.
- X – Obtain eXplicit consent to record the information given.
- A – Ask some key questions about how they want to be communicated with.
- S – Signpost if unable to provide an appropriate service.
By preparing the customer for the information required in the conversation ahead, how that information will be used and what outcomes to expect, this should hopefully reassure them that they are being listened to and understood, with their interests put first.
A ‘tell me once’ policy can also be implemented as one solution, so that customers do not have to keep disclosing the same information unnecessarily. By noting this information down on customer records, insurers will be able to see all the relevant information obtained and ask relevant questions related to the application or claim, rather than speaking to the customer as if they have never been spoken to before.
It is essential to get the balance right between obtaining accurate and up-to-date information, and using the information already obtained. The journey from application to claim should feel seamless to the customer
By successfully noting key information, this should not only prevent repeating questions, but should mean that any further questions are related to the information already obtained. Relevant questions should make the customer feel like they have been listened to and understood. This should also hopefully help improve the sense of trust customers have with their insurer.
There are of course instances where more up-to-date information is required at a later date. But rather than beginning the questioning process from zero, insurers should begin by using the information they already have and elaborate on it appropriately. Check to see if the customer is still on the same medication since you last spoke to them. If there is a change then this would be a good prompt to see if there is anything you need to discuss further. However, bear in mind to use the same process as the TEXAS model so that the customer knows why this information is required and what it is being used for.
There may also be instances where circumstances have changed. If you already have information about a diagnosis, rather than asking for the information again from scratch, use the information you already have and build on it from there. It may be that something has happened that is completely unrelated to their condition. Therefore, it would be unnecessary and inappropriate to force the customer to relive their diagnosis during a renewal or new application.
Heard and understood
While insurers are not expected to become medical experts, they are expected to listen to and understand their customers, especially when they have disclosed personal and sensitive information. As each customer is different, it is important not to treat them all the same.
It is essential to get the balance right between obtaining accurate and up-to-date information, and using the information already obtained. The journey from application to claim should feel seamless to the customer. By creating a consistent experience, customers should feel confident that once they have disclosed a piece of information, it will be listened to and understood by the whole of the business and not just at the point of disclosure.
James Moorhouse is content manager of the CII
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