Protection policy holders will hope that they or their family never have to make a claim. Should they ever need to however, it is important that the claims process is quick and simple, to support them through what is likely to be a very difficult time. Providers can employ a number of methods to achieve this which we will be exploring in this insight.

Having to explain the reason for a claim can be a tough task. It is therefore important that providers make sure a claimant does not have to repeat their explanation to different members of the claims team. Assigning a single dedicated claims handler to each claimant can help ensure this. It will also provide familiarity to the end client making it easier for them to discuss the specifics of their case. The chart below shows which providers apply this in their claims process.

The unfortunate point at which a client or their loved ones need to make a claim by definition will be an extremely difficult point in their life. It is therefore important that insurers treat them with compassion. In addition, claims handlers should have a good understanding of the incapacity and illness definitions relating to plans so they can have an informed conversation with the claimant. This can avoid any unnecessary delays in the process, and reducing any further stress. Fortunately, most providers deliver training in both these areas, often with the help of third parties such as The Samaritans.

As different people will have different preferences on how they contact the provider it is beneficial for providers to offer claimants different options for when they need to make a claim. While all of the above providers will allow claimants to notify them of a claim via post, e-mail or telephone, some providers will also permit claims to be made via their extranet system. Claimants who make a claim over the phone may be required to complete a separate claim form. Clearly this is something claimants are likely to want to avoid as it adds another step to the process and can lead to the insurer requesting more information if not completed correctly.

The graph below details how claims can be made with different providers.

When a claim is made, providers will request relevant documentation from the claimant. Each provider will have their own stance on what documentation is required and in what form it needs to be sent. Naturally, claimants will prefer minimal requests as well as not having to provide original documents as this will delay the process and could cause additional stress.

For a Critical Illness or Income Protection claim, providers will generally request the medical consultant’s diagnosis. Royal London and Vitality require the original documents from the claimant while AIG and Old Mutual will obtain this themselves, reducing the burden on the claimant.

If there has been a change of name during the term of a policy it is likely that the provider will request sight of a marriage certificate or evidence of the change of name. Not all providers however, require the original. Of the above providers; Aviva, Canada Life, Guardian, Legal & General, LV=, Vitality and Zurich will accept copies of the certificate.

The policy schedule may also need to be sent to the provider, although none of the providers covered in this insight request originals. Claimants may feel this is a strange request given it was the provider who issued the documents to them. Aegon, Aviva and Royal London relieve claimants of this inconvenience as they do not request their schedules to be sent to them.

Where unoriginal documentation can be used, providers may require any photocopies to be certified by a relevant professional. Obtaining this can be equally as challenging for the claimant as finding originals. Therefore, providers who accept uncertified documents can significantly smoothen their claims processes. Some providers make it even easier for claimants by allowing them to send photographs of the documentation requested. 

The graph below highlights in which form providers will accept documents where originals are not required.

t is important for providers to consider not only how they can deliver a better claims process but also how they can offer better support post claim. An example of this would be offering a follow up call to check on the progress of the insured person’s recovery and to ensure they are aware of any added value benefits they may have access to. Small gestures such as this can go a long way in helping consumers through hard times and, more broadly, can help improve public perception of the industry.

Claims payments can be substantial meaning investment advice may be required when the money is received. Therefore, when necessary, directing claimants to their adviser to aid in investing the money can be another valuable post claim service. The table below shows which providers offer ongoing support and who supports clients looking to invest money.

In conclusion, our research has highlighted the strength of Guardian’s and Zurich’s claims processes. Both providers allow claims to be made through all the main channels and will assign claimants with a dedicated claims handler. Moreover, if a claim is made over the phone they will ensure the necessary information is gathered to remove the need for a claimant to fill out a form separately. The providers’ claims processes are made smoother by not requiring original copies of marriage certificates, policy schedules or doctor diagnoses. Both providers will accept uncertified photocopies and photographs. In addition, both providers offer ongoing support post claim including support with investment needs.

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