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Claims Digitalization in a Platform Age

A girl takes pictures on a smartphone of car damage at the scene of an accident for insurance compensation.

Platforms allow insurers to embed technology including digital imagery, satellites, drones and robotic processes.

The insurance industry is often described as conservative in the race to digitalization. Built on centuries old foundations, it employs tried and tested practices that in recent years have been more resistant to the digital evolution than those of other financial sectors.

However, over the last five-to-ten years, and in particular during the global pandemic, the industry has found a new gear, and has started to push through the pack. Rapidly evolving customer expectations, demand for faster response, the laser focus on expense ratios, the quest for increased data analytics to drive outcomes, and the adoption of remote working strategies for the longer term have created a marketplace in which digital evolution is an operational imperative.

In many ways the claims environment lends itself to the adoption of this platform approach.

The claims industry during this period has been a digital front runner. New technologies have altered claims management on multiple fronts in an incredibly short period. Every phase of the cycle from first notification of loss to claims settlement has received a digital enhancement, as companies capitalize on multiple performance and cost benefits.

And the primary driver for this, of course, is the need to operate the way customers want to operate. It is critical that we look to go beyond where we have been in the past and reimagine how we do things today to deliver in the future.

However, this is not simply about introducing multiple differentiating digital components into the existing claims ecosystem, but–finding the best way to bring those multiple capabilities together in a seamless, efficient and easily accessible way.

For Crawford, which has been developing a digitally enhanced claims ecosystem, the most obvious global examples of this have been platform solutions such as Amazon and eBay. These offer the ability for buyers and suppliers to interact in a single marketplace in the most efficient way possible.

In many ways the claims environment lends itself to the adoption of this platform approach. It is a process that has multiple clearly defined phases that require input from a range of different service providers and the introduction of technology at key stages to ensure the best client outcome.

With so many moving parts, the platform solution could greatly enhance the claims management process. At the basic level, it delivers value by facilitating the exchange of services between two or more groups – whether adjuster, contractor, insurer or policyholder. Platforms also create large, scalable technology-enabled networks of users and resources accessed on demand for any required service, while fostering communities and networks that allow users to interact and transact.

While platform solutions are a relatively recent concept in the global trading environment, the approach to transacting in this way is not new to Crawford. Our network of contractors is a platform business that has which allows carriers and policyholders to transact with a network of over 6,000 contractors, through a Crawford-developed marketplace that offers restoration services extending from first notice of loss all the way through to finished repair.

This approach has proved highly successful, and insurers and policyholders benefit from having access to solutions to their needs through service providers in such an environment – in fact we currently handle over 500,000 assignments annually.