Digital claims way up amid pandemic

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P&C insurance policyholders' use of digital channels in claims is up 18% over the past three years, according to J.D. Power's U.S. Claims Digital Experience Study, and customers who use them report higher satisfaction levels.

That represents a major lift from 2017, when the company reported that customers were slow to adopt digital interactions and if they did, satisfaction levels were actually lower when they did. A big component of this study's reported lift comes in the mobile channel, where customers who scheduled vehicle repairs through the insurer’s mobile app is 909 on J.D. Power's 1,000-point scale. Overall satisfaction is 872.

“Digital has never been more important to modern claims operations,” said Tom Super, head of property and casualty insurance intelligence at J.D. Power. “Personal interaction continues to be a critical part of any claims operation. However, 84% of claimants say they’ve used digital at some point during their claim, placing insurers on notice of the evolving expectations of today’s insurance customers.”

In a separate auto claims study, J.D. Power notes that the 22% decline in claims frequency over the course of the pandemic has given those carriers an opening to improve their digital interactions.

Satisfaction has ticked up every year, including this year by one point, since 2017, but other measurements indicate advancements. Cycle time is down by more than two days to 10.3, and the number of customers who will "definitely renew" with their current auto carrier rose from 72% among those surveyed before the pandemic to 76% after.

“The sharp decline in claims volume during the pandemic has served as a test case for the industry in how to make improvements in service delivery that translates directly to increased satisfaction and increased intent to renew,” Super says. “This is important because it demonstrates that efforts to improve claimant service delivery translates directly to improved business outcomes. The challenge now, of course, will be maintaining that high level of service as claims volumes start to normalize.”

The digital claims survey, conducted with partner Corporate Insight, reached 2,224 consumers between July and September 2020 who had filed a claim in the 12 previous months. It examined the functional aspects of desktop, mobile web and mobile apps based on range of services, appearance, navigation and clarity of information.

The auto-specific survey was fielded in four waves starting in Nov. 2019 and ending in Sept. 2020. More than 11,000 claimants responded.

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