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Sia Partners launched a market survey in 2016, on Claims management in Asia. We shared the lessons learnt during an insightful breakfast at the American Chamber of Commerce of Hong Kong on November 22nd. Some of the results will be shared in this insight. Should you be interested in knowing more, feel free to contact Sia Partners Insurance Practice.

Over the last century, the world switched from a goods economy to an information one. Moving forward, our consumer society has shown significant interest in the Customer Experience era. Insurers and policyholders’ visions of Experience may not be aligned yet, but they will eventually converge in the future. The good news being that the road has been paved by early-bird industries.

The era of experience has started

This translation from Product to Experience has come along with the commoditization of Services, irrespective of the industry:



Starbucks mission statement is no longer to sell good coffee, but "to inspire and nurture the human spirit - one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time"

Insurance is no exception, but has yet to realize the right experience-driven business model. “We’re the cheapest is the most seen selling argument. In order to avoid the ineluctable commoditization of Services, insurers need to highlight the worth of their offer, not the cost. And this worth will stem from the customer experience.

Today in a mirror

Claims management is a powerful lever to activate the enhancement of the Customer Experience, ranked #11 among factors leading to client satisfaction; ahead of purchasing experience, call center interaction and underwriting. Insurers’ claims strategy over the next two years reflect this trend: improving the customer satisfaction comes first1, before decreasing claim unit cost or scaling up operations to absorb growth.

In practice, customers associate claims to critical moments of truth, i.e. where they see if it was worth it for them to pay premiums. However, insurers still consider claims as a cost center.  For years they have taken steps to build resilient organizations, with spotlights away from customers:

  • Heavy IT investments;
  • Design of lean organizations for short term cost savings;
  • Renegotiation of supplier and claims handling arrangements; and
  • To a lesser extent, investment in digital front-end.

As a result, Claim Managers are still pressured to reach more cost optimization and higher performance expectations. Figures confirm that there is room for improvements: up to 32%2 of policyholders are unsatisfied with their “claims” process (compared to 14%2 for “purchase”). As Claims are not managed as an experience yet, insurers have to leverage the momentum launched by other industries and early birds within their industry, such as direct players.

The journey to tomorrow

All is not lost though. Through an explosion in data volume and sources and given outdated technologies that limit the ability to gain integrated customer views and provide responsive service, the wind of change is blowing on Claims management, to evolve from a step in the policy lifecycle, to a part of the customer journey.

Before boarding the boat, insurers should take a look in the mirror – “Know thyself!” (Socrates advised). IT systems cannot be changed in one day, therefore insurers will have to rely on their IT strengths and know their weaknesses. Besides, fragmented governances over Asian locations or immature reporting toolkits will slow-down the transition. A specific governance will be required for customer-driven programs if the one in place cannot support disruptive projects.

Integrating Claims Management in the Customer Journey will be driven by four levers:

1. Service leadership - Differentiating from the competitors through servicing will foster insurers to put themselves into their customer’s shoes, to understand that experience is (and only is) a matter of perception. A customer journey IS NOT an internal process. Instead, it consists in clarifying the customer promise, then building the Customer Journey by addressing the challenge of pushing the right channel to the right customer for the right claim. The following best practices will transform insurers to a superior service leadership

2. Data deciphering - Data Science and Internet of Things (IoT) have hidden treasures to enhance the combined ratio:


To get to this stage, insurers will have to rely on open data and machine learning, among others, that can be delegated to flexible partners to enable them to focus on their core business.

3. Operational Excellence - Robust operational excellence cannot be without automation. Automation allows Claims Managers to focus on added-value tasks, easing the life of staff and distributors and monitoring the activities. However, automation is shape-shifting and may take three formats:

   a) Increase automation rates to reach Straight-through Processing (STP) on non-critic tasks;

   b) Eradicate repeating tasks through Robotic Process Automation (RPA) or Artificial Intelligence (AI); and

   c) Deflect manual tasks to customers by fostering self-service.

Standardization is key to avoid exception handling, meaning breaking silos between sales and operations to ensure alignment between product design and policy management.

4. Talent management - Last but not least, there will be no customer-driven culture without a talented work force. Having the right number of people, at the right time, on the right job, with the right skills sounds like a state of the obvious. However attracting talented people, retaining experienced staff and creating a sustainable customer-driven culture requires strong HR design and Change management capabilities.


Service leadership, Data deciphering, Operational excellence and Talent management - four levers to drive Claims management one step forward.

How does your company plan to reach the promise land of Customer Experience?



1 Sia Partners Asia Claims Management survey 2016

2 Morgan Stanley / BCG Global Consumer Survey 2014



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