10 Tips for Insurance Agents to Improve the Claims Experience

Written by John F. Carroll on . Posted in Agency Management, Customer Service

insurance-claims-agent-supportI used to be an insurance claim adjuster.

There… I admitted it.

I was young and I needed the money.

I adjusted claims before moving into sales and though it was only a few years I learned a lot.

The divide  between agents and claims always bothered me.  I understand there are good reasons to separate them, but can’t we work together for a better overall customer experience?

A claim is the moment of truth.

It’s the single point in time when your promises are put to the test. Do you really want to rely on someone else to make sure your promises are fulfilled?

Agents CAN control and improve claim experiences for their clients. I know because I’ve seen it.

Here’s 10 tips from a former claim adjuster to make sure your customers have a positive claim experience:

1) Follow Up Until the Claim is Over

Following up on a claim is the opposite of following up on a sale.

Your calls are always welcome and you can’t overdo it.

I recommend establishing a schedule of follow-up that is heavier toward the beginning of the claim process.

For example, reach out to the client when the claim is filed, three days later, six days after that, nine days after that and so on.

It will only work if you assign the task to one person and establish a process for following through. The task manager in Outlook works well for this.

2) Give Emotional Support

insurance-agent-emotional-supportOne of the biggest complaints customers have about insurance claims is feeling like the company doesn’t care about them.

During my adjusting years, I saw firsthand how influential even a small amount of empathy can be.

(I became very good at faking it because it made my job so much easier.)

I also saw how impossible it is for claims employees to show every customer the care and concern they need and deserve.

Claims employees grow numb to how upsetting and emotional insurance claims are because they’re immersed in them 40+ hours a week.

Customer relationships are like personal relationships, they can overcome almost anything provided there is adequate emotional support.

3) Be a Point of Contact

During insurance claims, it’s not uncommon for a customer to be passed around to several different adjusters.

There may be one person that takes the information, another that schedules the inspection, another that assesses the damage, another that writes the check, and 10 other people your clients interact with throughout the process.

And that’s assuming there’s only one insurance company involved!

Make sure your clients know you can be their rock. The one consistent person they can always reach out to for phone numbers and contact information of all the other people involved.

4) Explain Coverages

You explained their coverages during the sales process so they should know what their policy covers, right?

Wrong.

Now is the time they will actually care how their insurance works. It may even be a good sales opportunity.

Explain what the coverages apply to in general terms but don’t make promises about exactly how each coverage will relate to their situation.

Which leads me to…

5) Don’t Make Promises About Coverage

Insurance claims and coverages are a lot trickier than you think and you could give advice that could cost your client thousands.

For example, let’s say your client describes a car accident like it wasn’t their fault and you tell them to get a rental car and file a claim through the other carrier.

Weeks later when the claim is denied by the other carrier and they have no coverage for the rental your client is going to be furious!

Say something like this instead:

“In my experience, your coverage usually works like ______, however every insurance claim is handled differently and you’ll get the best explanation directly from your claim adjuster.”

6) Boost Their Trust

claims-trustMost people have some degree of distrust in insurance companies when they need to file a claim.

I understand why they do and to be honest, they should.

Unfortunately, expectations often become reality and it doesn’t help your clients to begin the claims process with the mindset that they’re going to get screwed.

Say something like this:

“I talk to customers with claims every single day and for every problem I get another hundred people telling me what an amazing experience it was. You’ll be taken care of and if you ever feel otherwise I want you to contact me immediately.”

7) Offer Your Office

It’s not uncommon for people to need to print, fax, or scan documents to send to the claim adjuster and this may be difficult for many.

During your initial phone call let customers know they have your resources at their disposal.

And if your office has a notary, make sure they know that too.

8) Absorb Complaints

It’s very rare to have an insurance claim with zero complaints.

When people have complaints they want someone to hear. If no one listens they’ll speak with their wallet by getting insurance elsewhere.

Many times, people just want an apology. They want someone to hear their complaint and they want to feel like something will be done about it.

Unless you hear something really bad, I wouldn’t report complaints to the claims department because most of them are unjustified.

It hurts going down, but every complaint you can swallow will boost your agency retention.

9) Encourage Swift Action

Time delays are a very big source of dissatisfaction during the claim process and they are often caused by the customer.

Encourage your clients to respond to their adjusters with any necessary paperwork, information, or anything else as quickly as possible.

Despite the common misconception, insurance companies don’t want to delay claims. They want to pay them as quickly as possible because the longer they take the more expensive they get.

Preventing claim delays will help your loss ratio too.

10) Respect Your Adjusters

Insurance adjusters have really hard jobs.

They listen to complaints, they get yelled at, they hear sob stories all day long, and they can handle a workload of hundreds of clients at the same time.

Sound familiar? ;)

I’m going to let you in on a secret that I probably shouldn’t admit, but it’s important for you to know.

When I was a claim adjuster, if an agent gave me a hard time I would give his clients a hard time. When an agent was cool with me, I’d find ways to get the customer what he wanted.

I hope you don’t hate me for admitting that – it was a long time ago!

There’s a lot of gray area in claims and adjusters will find a way to make things work if they like all the people involved… including you.

In conclusion

If you’re relying on someone outside your agency to control 100% of your clients’ claim experiences you’re making a mistake. Take your clients by the hand and walk them through the process.

You CAN control whether your customers have a positive or negative claims experience.

If you know any other agents looking to improve customer service, please pass this article along to them. And if you picked up an actionable idea be sure to click the Like button!

Thanks.

 

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John F. Carroll

John F. Carroll is the founder and CEO of InsuranceSplash. For years, John has consulted insurance agencies with internet marketing and sales strategy and he is dedicated to making insurance marketing easy and effective for all insurance agents. If you're an agent, connect with John on LinkedIn, he wants to connect with you!

Comments (3)

  • george

    |

    I agree that “a claim is the moment of truth” so why do so few companies pay attention to the information that agtns and clients have access to with regard to their claims. Some are downright secretive about the status of a claim, or the process. They also respond with varying degrees of expediency. Catastrophes notwithstanding, the industry could stand to have a better system. We step out of the way with casualty claims, but property claims are a different story…and it never ceases to amaze me that there is not a single platform with which compaines can communicate with clients and agents alike. Progressive is the exception, offering (withing their excellent ‘management’ system) a place where agents and insureds can check on the status of the claim. Even though there are not a lot of details, it provides the current status, and easy access to contact information for claims adjusters, payments, etc.

    Reply

    • John F. Carroll

      |

      Thanks for a very thoughtful comment George! It’s a tricky dynamic between claims and sales, but it’s definitely improved by opening communication rather than closing it.

      Hopefully we’ll see more carriers following Progressive’s lead on this.

      Thanks!
      John

      Reply

  • Yen

    |

    John, thanks for this great tips. As now my HS claim cases almost 1 a day. I found out that with your tips I get a good feedback from my customer.

    Thanks again John.

    Reply

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