• Rianet Whitehead - Editor FANews

The claims process… when it gets personal

A topic we often write about in both the FAnews magazine and our newsletters is the issue around claims handling and the fact that clients often 'judge' the industry based on their claims experience. We talk about and write about this over and over; and we pride ourselves in the fact that the only thing differentiating one insurer from another on personal lines products is the service we give to our clients and brokers. And that is why we strive for service excellence... or not?

And then I had a claim...

On a Friday morning, two weeks ago, two of us pulled away at the same time at a four-way stop and we collided... it's called an accident. Both of us are insured, and I have a reputable broker, so I know I do not have to worry about anything because I have insurance and I have a broker who will sort out my life. Knowing how the process works I pre-empt the situation and get three quotes to hand in with the claim form.

A week after we have submitted the claim form, there is still no word from the broker or the insurer and after a follow-up phone call to our brokers they inform us that the autobody repairer was informed to start with the process on their side. The autobody repairer had no idea and visited us for a second round of photos to submit to our insurer.

Why a second round after photos were taken for quoting purposes? Surely this is a duplication of work? And who pays for this... probably the insurer? Is this how it works?

Another few days

The autobody repairer confirms that approval will probably take another four days... because they battle a bit with this specific insurer in terms of approvals. He mentions that they are very slow...

My brain is in overdrive and my emotions are taking over because for two weeks I have been driving around in a car with a 'badly bruised bumper' (and a FA NEWS * GP number plate) because my broker and my insurer just do not care about me. This is the message I get based on the fact that there is absolutely no rush to sort out my claim. I know a lot of brokers and advisers, and I know this is not the norm so why is this happening? When I enquire with my broker I am advised that insurer x and insurer x are very slow. So, if you know this why am insured with the largest insurer in SA who is the slowest? Or does it simply mean being the largest gives them the right to take their time?

Industry advocate

I am proud of this industry we work in because we change lives, we are there to makes people's lives better and put them back in the position they were in before the accident or incident happened as soon as possible... but this experience has really opened my eyes.

Yes, most brokers and advisers fight the fights for their clients and pride themselves in their claims handling process - it happens fast. Yes, you do get insurers who prioritise each claim because the client is just that important to them. And yes, I have many contacts who would have sorted out my claim within a day, I know that... but I wanted to have another good story to tell about my claims experience and why I love this industry without using my contact... and now I can't.

After two weeks I am still driving around with my 'badly bruised bumper' and my FA News*GP number plate... because the claim was not approved after the four days. Do understand that there is no funny business with this claim; it's straight forward...

Question time

I am keen to know how exactly the claims process works and when is a claim a priority or just another claimant who can fall in line to hear from us when we are ready. I am keen to know how 'pushy' my broker is supposed to be with a claim that is 'just another claim' and I am keen to know what the normal turnaround time of a straight forward bumper replacement claim is.

And then we are talking about technology and how it might speed up the whole claims experience... I think it's time to go back to the drawing board.

Editor's thoughts: The benefits of having a broker vs going direct far outweighs each other. That is a given, but the broker can only be as good as the insurer allows them to be? Do you believe that your brokerage gets the best service from the insurers you place business with? Please comment online, interact with us on Twitter at @fanews_online or email me your thoughts.

Rianet Whitehead Editor rianet@fanews.co.za +27 11 768 2299 +27 82 467 1924

This article is published courtesy of FANews.

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