In automotive claims, the concept of self-service is evolving as consumers, particularly those of the Gen Y era, want to be positioned front and center—and in the driver’s seat—when it comes to having more control and better access to claims and insurance information. From allowing drivers to actively participate
in first notice of loss (FNOL) with photos of vehicle damage, to letting them view the
progress of their automotive repairs online, and offering Facebook integration for
the insurance apps they use—insurers are unveiling a whole new world of technology
innovation and self-service to vehicle owners today.
The driving force behind all of these
advancements not only includes the ever-increasing need to improve the customer
experience across the full lifecycle of the
claim, but also the changing demographics of the marketplace and its impact on
the way insurers do business.
From Steady Evolution
The insurance industry enjoyed a dynamic, steadily evolving market environment through most of the 20th century.
Ever-present risks, regional disasters and
personal calamities would come in and out
of people’s lives; yet, with careful planning
and attention, policies were there to rescue
the consumer from financial loss. Furthermore, the basic roles of service providers
and customers remained relatively stable.
The 20th century also saw the creation
of government-sponsored insurance—
social security, most notably. Additionally, private insurance continued to introduce innovation in the way of products
and policies. Indeed, the industry has
continued producing some of the most
forward-looking and strategic ideas in
the business world. A hallmark of the U.S.
insurance industry over the last century
has been its capacity for bringing financial stability to companies, families and
whole classes of people that in other parts
of the world—or in other times—may not
have fared so well.
The insurance trends during this period
showed incremental, steady evolution—
not revolution. Now, we see insurance
practices changing dramatically—and in
ways that couldn’t have been predicted.
The drivers of change lie outside the in-
dustry itself. With the steady acceleration
and adoption of consumer technology
and the almost overnight pervasiveness
of the Internet and mobile technology, the
insurance industry (along with most other
industries) has faced daunting challenges:
■ With so much technology and information in the hands of consumers,
expectations for service have dramatically expanded.
■ Consumers, ready to flex their muscle in what has been described as the
“Quiet Riot” of the consumer revolution, demonstrate willingness, even
eagerness, to participate in the claims
and resolution process.
■ As consumers continue their quest for
more convenience, lower prices, and
even faster service, insurance companies
must address these concerns while also
maintaining a viable business model.
Two primary factors have contributed to
this seismic shift in the insurance industry:
1. The changing demographics of the
market; that is, a generational shift from
baby boomers (born 1946 to 1964) to
Generation Y (born 1982 to 2002).
2. The transforming impact of consumer
technology—from smart phones, ubiquitous social media, interactive websites and “always-on” networks.
Some business and service organizations—eager to identify, serve and retain
their clients—may find the current business environment somewhat disorienting. Others, with the support of industry
leaders, technology partners and training
professionals, will find the new landscape
exhilarating, lucrative and rewarding.
Let’s examine the changing landscape
of insurance services by focusing on new
trends and practices in a particularly dy-
namic sector: automotive claims.
Auto Claims Processing
Self-service may not seem like a new
concept, but, the self-service model was
virtually unknown to consumers 100
years ago. Since that time, we’ve seen
elevators, gas stations, buffet-style restaurants, ATMs, self-checkout lines, and
countless more examples of the movement to the self-service model.
Interestingly, the first self-service grocery store was introduced in 1916. Entering through a turnstile, shoppers walked
a few aisles and selected their purchases
from several hundred items before proceeding to the checkout stand. At the
time, this was revolutionary.
As the Internet age ushered in e-com-merce, shoppers were given unbounded
selection, payment and delivery options
(e.g. shipping preferences) that were not
prevalent in the “brick and mortar” realm.
More recently, we’ve seen a continuing
trend to self-service in the Internet era.
The company Yelp ( yelp.com), for example, represents a self-service, consumer-sourced, connected and mobile referral
engine. Yelp offers site visitors (now pushing past the 100 million per month level)
the ability to record reviews of consumer
experiences and to browse reviews posted
by others. No consumer-facing establishment—restaurants, retail stores, auto
repair shops, insurance agencies, just to
name a few—is beyond the reach of either
favorable or unfavorable Yelp reviews.
Self-service is a trend that shows no sign
of slowing down and the Internet has proven
to be its natural accelerating agent. People
like self-service as a concept, as a self-em-powerment tool, and as a regular practice