Sameer Dewan, Global Business and Digital Transformation Leader for Insurance at Genpact, has stressed the importance of data strategy for re/insurers looking to effectively handle catastrophe claims operations.
Speaking in a recent interview with Reinsurance News, Sameer discussed the role of data and technology and asserted that managing disaster events is “one of the true tests” for any insurance company.
His firm, Genpact, is a New York headquartered global professional services firm that has a focus on delivering digital transformation.
Sameer noted that both internal and external data is critical for managing claims operations and for the planning phase before a catastrophic event occurs, as well as during and after the event.
This was the case for re/insurers affected by Hurricane Ida last month, who were under pressure to meet customer demands for a quick, fair and transparent claims process, while also managing a surge of claim volumes and the stress this brought to operations and supply chains.
While the operational challenge is comparatively less for reinsurers, these companies also need to staff up and prioritize the cash calls requests from multiple brokers and primary carriers to settle insured’s claims, Sameer added.
“One of the biggest challenges that a catastrophe brings to an insurer is the impact on resources whether internal or supply chain,” he told Reinsurance News. “This pressure to the system makes it very difficult to service the customer.”
Fortunately, many different tools now exist in the digital ecosystem that take pressure off resources, such as allowing customers to self-report or using mobility solutions to collect data, which allows carriers to expand their adjusting teams by having the customer involved in their own claims process.
Likewise, various external sources of data can allow re/insurers to better understand the location, type, and severity of losses before they are even reported.
“This allows for quick mobilization and better service to their customers in the impacted areas. As many carriers are thinking about future events, data is central to their strategy,” Sameer explained.
“Using external data, including satellite images to determine where the greatest need for resources will be, allows the carrier to mobilize in the areas that are most impacted and make sure those customers see resolution quickly,” he continued. “Also, with the effective use of external data, carriers are leveraging digital inspection for less damaged areas and fast-track the settlement.”
“Similarly, for the transaction between Primary and Reinsurance carriers, it is critical to integrate data from multiple sources, identify and code catastrophic claims as they are reported and adjusted, including aggregation into a single ‘event’ to calculate reinsurance recoveries, easily pull the required data to report, and collect money from the Reinsurers.”
The Genpact executive also highlighted “significant opportunities” for primary carriers and reinsurers to collaborate in exchanging data and expertise for accurate exposure estimates, case reserve estimates and cash flow management.
For instance, some reinsurance platform providers are already providing seamless integration with carriers’ claim systems, which is allowing for near real-time modelling of the ultimate reinsurance recoverable, timely processing of the reinsurance aggregation & calculation to facilitate both more accurate reinsurance reserving and faster cash-flow in reinsurance collections.
“Reinsurance as an industry has a track record of supporting client carriers, in some cases making initial payments based on estimates and incomplete data – with the understanding that more claim data will become available, and the ultimate amount owed will be fine-tuned and agreed between the parties,” Sameer told Reinsurance News.
Digital solutions and new technologies have therefore improved interaction between insurers on both the customer and reinsurance side, reducing friction in the claims process to allow for a smoother and faster approach to settle catastrophe claims.
But Sameer also warned that it’s important for carriers to remember that human interaction is critical when customers feel the need to engage, and he maintained that insurers need to have a clear path for this engagement and the availability of those resources.
“Insurers know that they must keep their customers informed during a normal claims process and it’s even more critical during a catastrophe event,” he remarked.
“Insurers now utilize interactive portals, live chat, push notifications and other new digital advances to keep their customer informed. Many have developed online trackers that allow the customer to access at any time and understand where in the process there is and the next steps towards resolution. It is also equally critical to keep the agents, brokers and service partners informed about change in claims handling and communication process with the respect to catastrophe claims.”
“Similarly, keeping reinsurers informed of the estimated loss and evolving development before, during, and after a catastrophe is one of the best ways to ensure faster reinsurance claim collection – and preserve a positive relationship with reinsurers,” he concluded.