Client Stories

What if Tom Hanks did insurance claims?

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I had a rotten meal recently.

Well, what I meant to say was that the service was lousy, but the food when it eventually came was alright. I gave the manager a bit of an earful, and he gave me a good discount which went some way to making good the disappointment. I didn’t leave much of a tip either, although afterwards felt rather guilty as it wasn’t really the waitress’s fault, but rather was a problem in the kitchen. She gave me a sort of explanation – ‘The kitchen was busy, we had a table of 14 people who had placed their order’. I was on the point of saying ‘Why were they more important than my wife and myself…’ but didn’t.

So what’s my lunch got to do with insurance?

A recent news article suggested that thousands of ‘normal’ claims would be delayed because UK insurers were too busy handling other peoples’ flood claims. ‘Normal’ claims which would have taken a week to settle were taking a month. Disappointing really, even if understandable.

I don’t blame the claims staff, I’m sure they are working their socks off, but I wonder if they are adopting a ‘first-come, first-served’ approach, or responding to those who shout the loudest. It’s not an approach that would work in your local hospital or be of much value in this mass casualty exercise.

I was going to show a US Army Medic clip, or a clip of Tom Hanks doing hero work in ‘Saving Private Ryan’ on Omaha Beach, but neither are for the faint hearted. But you get the point.

Aren’t there similar principles to be adopted? Can an analytical, rules-based approach potentially work for all major incidents, provided we are disciplined enough to keep our emotions in check? And isn’t managing expectation as critical as service delivery? Wouldn’t all of us be more tolerant if we thought other people were in greater need – provided we were given an explanation at the outset?

So – back to my lunch. Imagine a conversation in a parallel universe which went along the lines of ‘We’ve just had a big group come into the restaurant. Things are going to be busy, it’ll be a bit slow, so have the first course on us….’. Or maybe, in an insurance context – ‘We’re really busy, as you’ll have seen on TV news. There’s going to be a delay in settling your claim, but we’ll do the best we can. In the meantime here’s a voucher for a 5% discount on your next premium renewal’.

Who knows what would be my reaction – maybe I might even give the adjuster a tip?

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