Protection policy holders will hope that they or their family never have to make a claim on their protection plan(s). In the current environment however it is likely that insurers will experience a dramatic increase in claims across all benefit types and at such times it is important that the claims process is quick and simple to support the client or their family through what is likely to be a very difficult time. In this insight we explore how providers can employ a number of methods to achieve this, not only during the claims process, but also post claim.

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; it will also provide familiarity to the end client or their family making it easier for them to discuss the specifics of their case. In a very positive reaction to the Protection Distributors Claims Charter, all insurers now ensure that when making a claim the client or their family are provided with a single point of contact within their claims team who will help them through their claim.

The unfortunate point at which a client or their loved ones need to make a claim will, by definition, 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, reducing any further stress. Fortunately, most providers deliver training to their claims handlers in both these areas, often with the help of third parties such as The Samaritans, Winston’s wish etc.

As different people will have different preferences on how they would want to contact the insurer it is beneficial for providers to offer claimants different options for when they need to make a claim. While all providers will allow claimants to notify them of a claim via post, e-mail or telephone, some also have the functionality for claims to be submitted via their website. Where a claim is made over the phone some insurers may still require a claim form to be submitted. Clearly this is something claimants are likely to want to avoid as they will have to repeat the information they have already provided via the phone in writing and it 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 may request the medical consultant’s diagnosis from the claimant. AIG and HSBC will obtain this themselves, reducing the burden on the claimant going directly to the doctor whilst Vitality require sight of the original document. All other insurers state that copies of these documents are acceptable. 

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 with all insurers except AIG and Scottish Widows happy to accept copies of the certificate.

Where copies of documentation are accepted, providers may require these to be certified by a relevant professional. Obtaining this can be equally as challenging for the claimant as finding originals exspecially as they self isolate. Therefore, providers who accept uncertified documents can significantly reduce friction in 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:

It 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.

With some claims being a substantial amount, investment advice may be required once 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 in the form of follow up calls post a claim being settled and who supports clients looking to invest money:

Insurer
Follow up call to check recovery
Follow up call to explain additional services available to claimant
Follow up call to signpost to support in investing money
AEGON
Y
Y
Yes, referred to an adviser
AIG
Y
Y
Yes, referred to an adviser
Aviva
Y
Y
N
British Friendly
Y
Y
N/A IP only
Canada Life
N
N
N
Guardian
Y
Y
Yes, referred to an adviser
Holloway Friendly
Y
Y
N/A IP only
HSBC
Y
N
Y
Legal & General
N
N
N
LV=
Y
Y
N
Royal London
Y
Y
Yes, referred to an adviser
Scottish Widows
Y
Y
N
The Exeter
Y
Y
N
VitalityLife
Y
Y
N
Zurich
Y
Y
Yes, referred to an adviser

Overall the claims processes deployed by insurers have improved immeasurably. This is in no small part thanks to the hard work of the Protection Distributors Group and their claims charter. AEGON, Aviva, Guardian, Holloway Friendly and Zurich all have strong propostions as they provide great training to their claims handlers, offer a wide range of channels to submit a claim without requesting a further claim form if sibmission is made over the phone and accept a number of options for copying documents.