The biggest USP for many insurers

Claims departments are now key to re/insurers’ offerings, and technology is a big part of that. Liberty Specialty Markets’ Irene Stavrou discusses the company’s investments and why claims are about much more than simply paying out.

As another Re/insurance Lounge panel titled “How the use of tech and service can set insurers apart” discussed, insurers’ claims departments have seen a transformation over the last two decades—and there’s no sign of it slowing down. Investments in technology have made notification and payments smoother and simpler and led to a whole range of broader services.

Among those who’ve invested heavily is Liberty Specialty Markets (LSM), the London-based insurer, which in 2020 recorded a gross written premium of $6.78 billion across its three pillars: international, London and global products, and reinsurance.

To find out more, Intelligent Insurer sat down later with LSM’s head of commercial claims, Irene Stavrou, for the Re/insurance Lounge, the online, on-demand platform for interviews and panel discussions with leading players from the market.

Enhancing services

According to Stavrou, claims has always been a central part of LSM’s offering, but technological advances have brought significant changes in the 15 years she’s been with the business. Three tools illustrate that well:

  • Liberty Risk Reduce, a digital portal for customers that hosts tools such as online learning, including accredited materials from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents and real-time claims data. Customers can also use it for electronic notification of claims.
  • Liberty Virtual Rooms, launched in August 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, gives clients and brokers access to Liberty staff diaries to schedule video appointments with them. To date, it’s hosted 605 meetings and almost 900 hours of online, face-to-face discussions.
  • An Advanced Cat Response service uses live tracking of hurricanes and storms to alert exposure management teams of policies likely to claim. That enables them to contact brokers and clients ahead of the event and prenominated loss adjusters.

All three tools enhance convenience for clients and brokers but also provide efficiencies and other benefits for LSM, Stavrou explained.

The digital portal frees up time for risk engineers and helps customers understand and address their key claim areas; Liberty Virtual Rooms has been essential in coping with social distancing and lockdowns during the pandemic; and its early warning system for cat risks not only accelerates claims processing but enables customers to take action to help mitigate the risk and ultimately reduce losses.

Ultimately, however, the key benefit is to customer service.

“We’re aiming to be a leading financial services company, and in order to do that, we need to invest in ensuring that the customer experience is consistently good,” said Stavrou.

“We’re capturing data that helps us understand what matters to customers and how we can support them appropriately.”

“We’re capturing data that helps us understand what matters to customers.”
Irene Stavrou, Liberty Specialty Markets

The role of claims

The technology both reflects and enables the changing nature of claims. The role is much broader now, said Stavrou, and involved not just from notification but, in many cases, at the inception of the policy.

“We get involved from day one.”

In one sense, technical skills remain as important as ever—if not more so: the department’s ability to make sense of the claims it sees across clients and different business lines, and how these relate to policy coverage, is among the key insights it can bring customers. Collecting, analysing and interpreting that claims data to inform and advise clients is a core function.

On the other hand, claims is now a front-office role, said Stavrou, requiring a broader skillset.

“Understanding the claim and the policy is hugely important, but claims is no longer a back-office function. We’re very much a customer-facing role now, so we need to be able to build on relationships and be agile in working with new technology and data,” she said.

“Our customers expect much more from us than just paying a claim.”

The importance of data and technology won’t diminish the need for human interaction. “There will always be individuals,” said Stavrou. “Customers still want to be able to contact a person to discuss their claims.”

This means that claims will never retreat to the back office—if anything, its profile will grow as new innovations emerge and the role evolves.

“When I started, brokers were still bringing in paper files, and that was only 15 years ago. When you look at the advances we’ve made, it’s usually exciting, so I’m excited to see what’s still to come,” she concluded.

To view the full Re/insurance Lounge interview click here

Image courtesy of Shutterstock /

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