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Claims are the very cornerstone of the insurance proposition and finding ways to improve the claims process still further is an ongoing priority for AXA XL. Laura Probyn, Head of Property Claims UK & Lloyd’s, explains how innovations in technology are helping claims professionals to enhance the service they offer clients against the challenging backdrop of a global pandemic.

Claims is at the very heart of what insurers do. And we are constantly exploring ways to enhance the process and pay valid claims swiftly and efficiently – to the benefit of all involved.  In this most challenging of years for everyone, technology has played an even greater role in this effort to improve the way in which claims are managed and paid. 

Over the past year, companies and employees across all sectors have adapted to new ways of working to try and help stop the spread of COVID-19. Technology has been a vital part of this for many industries. This greater acceptance of technology has enabled claims professionals to continue working to settle claims fast and efficiently even against the backdrop of these most challenging of circumstances. 

The use of satellite industry and desktop adjusting are two great examples of the ways we have been able to harness technology to handle our clients’ claims promptly, efficiently and effectively.

Satellite images
We, and other underwriters within the Lloyd’s of London marketplace, have been using satellite imagery for several years to help us to assess and settle claims. The use of this technology really came to the fore when a series of devastating and deadly hurricanes struck parts of the Caribbean and US in 2017.

On-the-ground access was extremely difficult. Many of the areas worst affected were islands, and this made it challenging for adjusters to get to the site of claims, as flights from mainland US were reduced or grounded because of the storms and the provision of aid became the number one priority.

Not only was access to the affected areas severely restricted, resources were spread very thin – the number and scale of the events meant there were challenges in finding enough adjusters to make site visits and work on settling claims.

Satellite images enabled us to have insights into the events as they developed and to make preliminary assessments of claims.

Satellite imagery can give us an overview of the severity and type of claim – fast. In the case of wildfires, for example, satellite imagery can give us preliminary information about the extent of a loss even when physical access to an area is still impossible. In some cases, we are even able to use the information gleaned via satellite imagery to pay a claim without ever needing to send an adjuster to the claim site.

Using satellite imagery can also help us to prioritise. For example, if we can see that a business premises has lost a roof, we can make a speedy assessment on that business’ ability to continue to operate and take steps to swiftly handle the claim to reduce the business interruption impact.

While there will always be a need for site visits by adjusters to assess certain types of claim, satellite imagery has shown itself to be a complementary innovation that can add to our ability to manage and pay claims swiftly to help our clients to get back on their feet.

Adjusting at a desk
Desktop adjusting is another area where working with innovation experts has enabled us to find new, efficient ways to adjust claims – and to involve clients more in the process. Recently, we have been working to find innovative ways to speed up the claims process and reduce inefficiencies for the business handled on our behalf by Third Party Administrators (TPAs). 

The traditional processes used to provide claims adjusters with sufficient information to make a decision on a claim can be time-consuming. These processes are typically manual and rely on a physical inspection of a site, or vehicle, by independent adjusters. This can mean that the dissemination of information is slow, delaying the decision-making process. This not only affects the quality and speed of the service we provide our clients, it also can increase the loss adjusting expenses incurred by insurers. 

To find ways to address this challenge, we undertook a proof of concept with a Canadian technology firm, Encircle – which provides real-time documentation and productivity tools, and some of our TPAs. This experiment explored whether TPAs could make the shift to a technology-enabled desktop model to make the claims process more efficient, streamlined and cost-effective for all involved. 

The Encircle tool connects all the parties involved in the claims process – including policyholders, insurance companies, claims adjusters and restoration contractors – on one platform. It enables real-time capture of loss information through the client’s smart phone to the desktop claims adjuster.

By giving our clients use of Encircle we were able to get claim insights within as little time as a minute from the first notification of the loss.

This and significantly speeds up the claims triage process for our TPAs and enables us to provide a better service for clients by shortening the claims cycle and involving them more in the claims process. 

With the restrictions on the movement of people prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the ability to handle claims in this way has proved invaluable and we are currently rolling out this technology across the Property book. 

As technology visionary Steve Jobs once said, technology is a powerful tool, but it is just that – a tool. It’s what people do with it that matters. 

Technology will never replace the role that claims experts play in handling, adjusting and settling claims. There are certain complex and delicate claims that will always require site visits. The expertise of our claims professionals, and the relationships they have with our clients, are vital to the service we provide and to our stated aim of moving from payer to partner. 

But recent events have helped to highlight the ways in which technology can supplement the work of the claims adjuster, and how claims innovations can add to the service we provide to our clients wherever they are in the world.  

As we look to the future and the world adjusts – no pun intended – to the “new normal” post-COVID, we will continue to use technology and look for new innovations to continue our commitment to improve the claims process for all involved. 

Laura Probyn is Head of Property Claims UK & Lloyd’s.


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US- and Canada-Issued Insurance Policies

In the US, the AXA XL insurance companies are: AXA Insurance Company, Catlin Insurance Company, Inc., Greenwich Insurance Company, Indian Harbor Insurance Company, XL Insurance America, Inc., XL Specialty Insurance Company and T.H.E. Insurance Company. In Canada, coverages are underwritten by XL Specialty Insurance Company - Canadian Branch and AXA Insurance Company - Canadian branch. Coverages may also be underwritten by Lloyd’s Syndicate #2003. Coverages underwritten by Lloyd’s Syndicate #2003 are placed on behalf of the member of Syndicate #2003 by Catlin Canada Inc. Lloyd’s ratings are independent of AXA XL.
US domiciled insurance policies can be written by the following AXA XL surplus lines insurers: XL Catlin Insurance Company UK Limited, Syndicates managed by Catlin Underwriting Agencies Limited and Indian Harbor Insurance Company. Enquires from US residents should be directed to a local insurance agent or broker permitted to write business in the relevant state.