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Claims in 1979 versus today: how have things changed? | Insurance Business


It’s been almost 40 years, but how much has the claims space – and the role of a claims handler – changed since 1979?

According to Chubb’s head of multinational claims, Graham Lambourne, who first began working in claims that year, the nature of the job and its wider importance within an insurance company has seen a transformation during the last four decades.

“In my first days and years of claims handling it was a simpler world,” Lambourne said while speaking at the Uniglobal annual claims management conference. “We really are much more focused now on the customer – we have come a long way.”

While once claims handlers were focused only on the task at hand, today their role is far more wide-reaching, and they are required to have a more rounded view of the impact that their work has on the business and the customers they serve, according to the executive.

“I want senior claims adjusters certainly to be thinking about that now – that wasn’t the case in 1979,” he said.

There has also been a move away from a focus solely on claims outcomes, to a place where the idea of the customer journey is now key, Lambourne said.

“How can I improve the customer experience? That’s what I want claims handlers to be thinking today… We need to be thinking about our claims reputation all the time,” he noted.

“I also expect our claims teams now to be salesmen. That doesn’t always come naturally to a claims person though, I suspect. By habit, we are analytical, technical, but we have got to be more than that: we have got to be able to sell our product, our claims service, so that we can build the business as well.”

In 2018, the industry has a better customer culture, and a better reputation, but it’s still not perfect, says Lambourne. Claims teams are often leaner and are typically very busy. The move from having less generalists to more specialists can also prove a challenge rather than a benefit at times. Technology too can also be more of a hindrance than a help: “we’ve got to expect some technology to fail, and that’s where human beings can help us a great deal.”

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