Having lost investment income during the financial crisis and faced with changing customer preferences and regulatory environments, insurance companies around the world are refocusing on operational efficiencies and business agility, according to the 2011 World Insurance Report, produced by Capgemini and the European Financial Marketing Association.
The study explores ways insurers can dissect their business to identify opportunities that will make fundamental and lasting improvements to their core operations, with a focus on enhancements to claims transformation. The report draws on research insights from 14 countries - including Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Spain, Switzerland, the UK and the US - and covers both non-life (including health) and life insurance segments. Based on a comprehensive body of research, it includes in-depth focus interviews and extensive surveys with 58 insurance executives.
"By the second half of 2009, the economy had started to improve but many insurers were still faced with the challenge of meeting their financial obligations despite losses in investment income, increases in premiums and other less than ideal operating conditions," explains Jean Lassignardie, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Capgemini's Financial Services Global Business Unit. "The financial crisis is a stark reminder for insurers that they cannot rely on investment income alone to deliver results. Instead, to achieve sustained growth, they must also re-focus on core drivers of operational excellence."
The research makes clear five key conclusions regarding the need for insurers to transform claims to meet customer needs while driving results; stabilize reliable claims processing platforms; manage indemnity expenses more effectively; leverage claims data for enterprise-level decision-making; and ensure critical business agility, especially if seeking to thrive over the long-term.
Meet 'brand promise' while driving results
With a less-than-satisfactory claims experience prompting one-in-five customers to switch insurance providers, claims transformation is where many insurers, especially non-life insurers, are finding both opportunities for operational efficiency improvements and the tangible substantiation of their brand platform necessary to deliver on customer commitments.
According to the 2011 World Insurance Report, opportunities exist for non-life insurers to capture operational efficiencies in claims, where costs are rising fast. In fact, from 2006-2009, the claims ratio rose in nearly every country (except the Netherlands) and outpaced the expense ratio at a greater rate of 4.6 percent to 0.3 percent (acquisition plus operational).
Inefficiencies - stemming from environmental, technical and organizational factors - are all driving the imperative to transform claims processing. While the potential for driving efficiency varies by firm, strategy, country and service segment, within claims, three areas can have immediate impact on achieving efficiency. They include creating a reliable, predictable claims processing platform, managing indemnity expenses to the right levels and leveraging claims data for enterprise decision-making.
First of all, suggests the report, insurers should implement and stabilize a reliable claims platform that leverages technology to enable integrated claims processing, enhance process efficiency and cost effectiveness, reduce cycle times, and allow performance measurement. By closing process gaps, insurers should be able to reduce existing loss-adjustment expenses and drive continued improvements.
Managing indemnity expenses will also be key. While much attention is paid to the cost of paying and administering claims, there is also a significant need for insurers to tackle contingent liabilities (for example, overpayments in vendor transactions or suboptimal recovery practices). Insurers should optimize fraud management to reduce costs (and ultimately improve combined ratios) by making sure fraud is detected quickly and effectively, without undermining customer satisfaction or unduly raising litigation costs or creating net new costs.
Finally, firms should leverage claims data for enterprise-level decision-making. For an insurer, the ideal business information system makes efficient use of enterprise-wide data to support business decisions. Insurers need to leverage the full value of claims data by making sure the right data is captured and used to support business decisions - delivering benefits in terms of profitability, efficiency, strategic planning and regulatory compliance.
Ultimately, in an intensely competitive insurance market, differentiation through innovative claims management practices is going to be the most important and effective way to maintain market share and profitability. Claims transformation not only improves everyday efficiency and effectiveness, it also enables insurers to deliver on their brand promise and enhance brand value for the long-term. It can help drive top-line and bottom-line growth by improving client acquisition, client retention, procedural efficiency and effectiveness, as well as risk management. Without it, insurers will be challenged to differentiate themselves and maintain and evolve their market position.