Jeremy Trott examines how to rebuild trust in the claims profession and adapt skills for the new normal
Throughout the challenges of this past year, I have been immensely proud of how individuals and businesses have tried to keep their employee and customer base supported. That includes the changes that a number of insurers made to recognise additional activities that businesses need to do to stay afloat – for example, restaurants becoming takeaways, taxi companies turning to delivering food – and more generally, support for any humanitarian work that individuals were taking on. Most of this, insurers automatically covered from the various insurance angles, as well as offering their own employees different and varied ways of keeping in touch, with a particular focus on mental wellbeing.
Gradually, as things have started to slowly return to some kind of normal, we are all having to make sense of what it means to work through a pandemic.
So, what have we learned? Mainly, that we can adapt and change to circumstances that we never thought we could have in the past. We need to ensure we take this learning into the challenges of the future – culturally, we can be confident that we can achieve what we might not have thought was possible, with the right attitude and approach. We might initially fail but this is often the way we learn the most; and to seek perfection at the first attempt is rarely possible and often restricts progress in the long run.
As we go into 2021, there is still a considerable amount of uncertainty that we need to deal with – and my advice would be that we are just going to need to get more comfortable dealing with that uncertainty, rather than trying to change it. The news this month on the vaccine offers hope that we might be able to return to a more normal business life, but what do we actually mean by this statement? As many have said, ‘normal’ has probably changed forever – in terms of how we both live and work. In addition, other countries and cultures have shown they can not only live but actually thrive amid this uncertainty.
At the Society of Claims Professionals (SoCP), we are firmly focused on how we can help you both individually and collectively in this new environment.
Any solution will take time to deliver due to the nature of building trust in any scenario; but whatever we need to do should come from clear and simply explained policies that we deliver on in the key moment of truth of making a claim
Firstly, we need to ensure that we keep up to date with all of the technical aspects of coverage and how what we have on cover might actually play out from a claims perspective. Outside of a few experts, there were few that truly understood business interruption cover and all that it entailed; and this is only from one very specific perspective – pandemics. We now need to review what other key aspects of cover we need to consider going forward and work with underwriters and other areas of the business to drive forward both policy and technical developments across our businesses, with simplicity and transparency at their core, for both customers and employees.
Secondly, we need to consider more leadership and behavioural support, as the various restrictions and working from home on a more permanent basis have changed how we both operate and lead across insurance. We have gone from everyone in an office to everyone from home and will probably morph into a hybrid of the two during the coming years, with a variety of different models being set up. How do we ensure that we are thinking about all of the regulatory, welfare, customer, technological, training and induction concerns moving forward and provide support to our membership?
Thirdly, we also need to think about the changing skillset that this new normal will deliver. We have already accelerated our technological development, but other aspects – including data, artificial intelligence and customer expectations – all need to be considered when pulling together a programme of support.
Finally – and probably one of the biggest challenges – is how do we drive up public trust in our profession, from what is arguably an all-time low at the moment? What massively frustrates me is that broadly speaking, we have a good story to tell in terms of the vast majority of insurers, brokers, loss adjusters, who genuinely do try to put the customer first. For me, any solution will take time to deliver due to the nature of building trust in any scenario; but whatever we need to do should come from clear and simply explained policies that we deliver on in the key moment of truth of making a claim. Small steps towards building back this trust, with some strong messaging about how many claims we do pay out on, will slowly and surely rebuild trust.
These are just some of the areas to tackle and we at the SoCP would love to hear from you with your thoughts on any others.
To find out more, visit: www.socp.org.uk
Jeremy Trott is non-executive director of the Society of Claims Professionals