Why improving claims experiences could mean more business for insurers

In digital transformation initiatives, claims experiences have often been neglected due to the fact they are an expense and not a value driver. However, improving customer experience in these processes could be the secret to keeping more clients. One of the companies pioneering this charge is Benekiva.

The idea for Benekiva came after Brent Williams, Founder and CEO became frustrated at the archaic claims experience when helping one of his clients through an upsetting period of their life. While serving as an advisor, a client of his died in a motorcycle accident. The wife had to go through the claims process and engage the financial plan that had been set in place, which included life insurance, annuities, investment accounts, and more. Unfortunately, the process was long and tedious.

“I remember thinking that this lady has literally just lost her husband and she’s in a wheelchair, and here we are trying to go through the claim process, and it’s just so archaic. It was very frustrating for me to see her go through that, and I said there’s got to be a better way to go through this process.”

To express how archaic this process was, Williams remarked that the claim packet had “Death packet” blazoned across it in huge font. He added, “You’re going through the grieving process and have this blatant reminder that you’re going through a terrible time. I just thought we have to do better as an industry.”

The need to do better in claims is prevalent across all insurance verticals. Whether it is an auto, property, travel, or other types of policy, the person is making a claim because something went wrong. They are already upset, and a drawn-out and tiresome claims process will only make it worse. Williams added, “I hear all the time that you can take my premium payments really fast, but you can’t get me paid fast.”

One of the reasons current systems are not quick is because there are various regulatory steps to complete. There is often a common misconception about insurance firms – they don’t want to pay claims. However, Williams stressed that this is not the case. After speaking with hundreds of claims professionals, it is clear they want to complete pay-outs, but they don’t want to get them wrong. This builds up lengthy processes to ensure everything is done right.

But there is also another reason why the claims process has been ignored. It’s simply because claims are not a revenue driver for carriers; they are just an expense. Williams explained that digital transformation has primarily focused on finding new clients, leaving areas like the claims process neglected.

However, this is now changing. Customer experience has become a significant focus across the industry, and Williams sees claims as the perfect place to give the customer the best service.  “I would argue that paying claims is the most important job any insurance carrier can do.” This is because a customer’s opinion of an insurer is made up at this time. Buying a policy is often a matter of comparing terms, but retaining a customer is based on how smooth their claims were handled. Thanks to tech giants like Amazon, people expect all online interactions to be smooth and fast. While buying a book is vastly different from making a claim, people still want the process to be as hassle-free as possible. If they are shoved through a lengthy and archaic experience, they probably will find a new insurance provider when they look for a new policy.

“As an advisor in the industry for 20+ years, I’ve never had a client say to me,’ man, I do business with this carrier because they have great commercials,’” Williams added. “However, I have been through claim processes where the moment the claim is completed, I have been ordered, as the advisor, to move any and all other products away from that company to another one.”

There is even a way for the claims process to become a revenue driver. Williams highlighted a recent study Benekiva had around life insurance, which found that on average, just 4% of assets made in a death claim pay-out ended up coming back to the insurer. Instead, there is a chance to build on the relationship with the beneficiary to redeploy the funds into new insurance policies or other internal financial products.

For example, the Benekiva platform helps transition beneficiaries into clients. It sends pre-filled forms or quotes to ease new policies, provide financial planning resources, or send them to other asset management products.

What makes Benekiva special

Benekiva offers configurable SaaS technology that can consolidate siloed claims and servicing systems, reduce manual workloads and manual workarounds to create strong digital foundations for digital transformation. Its technology, which is system-agnostic, allows carriers to create a seamless orchestration layer that lets carriers accelerate claims and improve their customer experience.

The proliferation of the InsurTech market means insurance firms have a vast selection of platforms they could work with. Since 2017, more than $28bn have been invested into over 1,300 deals. With so many options in the market, it is hard to find the right solution.

One of the defining features of Benekiva is how it can work as a single claims and servicing system that supports an entire organisation, as well as subsidiaries. Another differentiator is its simplicity with monthly updates. Its technology doesn’t have a versioning issue where firms constantly go through implementation processes to keep updated. Instead, when a new software enhancement is released, the firm simply accepts or denies the enhancement.

Benekiva is built on this sense of simplicity. This is perfectly shown through its proprietary data configurator, Innovation Gateway. Through this, Benekiva can quickly connect multiple systems across an organisation and configure this to however it is needed. Once implemented, it allows claims to be completed Anytime, Anywhere, and on Any Device to provide a straightforward digital process with advanced auditing. Remarkably, as it can absorb all types of data and needs no custom code, this solution can be implemented in just six months.

Typically, when a vendor works with a client, they will ask for data and format in a very specific way. Unfortunately, this leaves an organisation having to access multiple systems, each with their own data schemes, outputs and limitations, and makes implementation of a solution more arduous and time-consuming. Its Innovation Gateway comes with an unintended value – it lets clients connect with third-parties.

To ensure all clients are happy, Benekiva takes a “crawl, walk and run approach.” Each new client goes through a proof-of-value process, which determines if the platform does what the client needs. Testament to its strengths, Benekiva has had a 100% success rate for its proof of concepts.

Future of claims

Technology is advancing rapidly, and the pandemic has only accelerated the digital transformation strategies of most companies. One of the most significant shifts from the pandemic is towards remote working. Firms spent the first few months trying to enable their customers to work from home while not reducing their productivity. Benekiva helped many of its clients easily make this shift without dropping the ball. It has even helped clients process claims late at night through a mobile device. One of its clients even completes 20% of its requests outside of traditional work hours. As hybrid working environments become the norm, this capability to easily complete processes online will be vital.

Technology is already enabling firms to process claims quicker than ever, but Williams thinks it will soon get to the point where a claim process can be completed with just a touch of a button. It could even get to the point where a claim is completed before the person files a first notice of loss.

This is very nearly doable, Williams said, simply by collating data from external data sources and using new technology like blockchain. Regulatory requirements are the main setback for it becoming a reality, but after successful use cases they will likely be open to this high-speed approach. Benekiva is already working on a blockchain solution that would help accelerate the claims process, but carriers are not at the stage where they are comfortable implementing blockchain services.

What is next for Benekiva

The company currently has several growth initiatives underway. It is looking to make great developments during 2022 and is currently building a game-changing AI engine, which will get its first use case later this quarter. Additionally, it is looking to double its team by the end of the year.

One of the primary growth drivers for the company is to become more entrenched with carriers. Benekiva doesn’t see itself as a vendor but rather as a partner. Williams said, “I often tell our team, the moment we become a vendor, we’ve lost.” This is because Williams does not want the platform to become a legacy solution that completes a contract; Benekiva is committed to being a partner to its clients in their short- and long-term digital optimisation and transformational efforts.

To ensure it can continue operating as a partner, Benekiva is always looking for ways to grow. A core part of this is finding out what its customers need. Williams explained that if it can identify a service multiple carriers need, they will fast-track it through their development roadmap. Benekiva is also happy to receive negative feedback to refine the platform and make it the best it can be.

Williams concluded, “I got the question a while back where a lady asked me, ‘When is the Benekiva platform done?’ It’s never going to be done. We will always innovate on the Benekiva platform; we will never have it completed. The moment you do that, you suffer from what many other technologies have done; your technology becomes legacy.”

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