Thanks to the Spiderman franchise, the maxim “With great power comes great responsibility” is a pervasive meme in business. But as Grace Hanson found out when she arrived at Homesite Insurance, a direct-to-consumer homeowner carrier, great responsibility comes on the road to power as well.
"Homesite is a company that has grown very rapidly in the past few years, and its initial focus was understandably on building online capability," she says. " Once we became more robust, Claims and its focus on the customer became critically important and gaps in that area were identified and bridged."
The trajectory of the company threatened to be compromised by the negative impact on service of the insurance ‘moment of truth’: the claim. So Hanson set about restructuring how the 140-person claims department handled critical situations.
"What we did was focus from the beginning on process and analytics," she says "We've been able to merge technology that captures data, with analytical capability, to create predictions about behavior, whether it's customer, employee or financial behavior, which we then operationalize. To that end we have an unusually large reporting and analytics group within Homesite Claims.
Perhaps by virtue of Homesite’s direct-to-consumer model, claims technology strategy has been a top line item for Hanson since her arrival -- especially the potential of data and analytics. She actually led the creation of a claims analytics department that helped improve in claims service shortly after it opened.
"When Superstorm Sandy hit, we had a number of new claims leaders and still hadn't fully fleshed out our infrastructure," she says. "We had five days to come up with a plan to handle an event that was double the size of the largest event that we had ever handled."
But the increased data portability, transparency, and reporting, drove measurable increases in customer satisfaction relative to Hurricane Irene, which “we did not handle as well,” Hanson says.
"You have to address the challenges of accommodating the needs of a consumer who comes to you direct, many times through the internet, but still wants more traditional care and nurturing at the time of claim," she explains. "Many carriers advertise that you can create a claim online, but it's illusory because they manually input at the back end. We have collaborated extensively with our marketing group which provides the online front end for purchase of the product and have been able to actually deliver seamless front to back integration with our Claims system."
Hanson worked with Homesite’s tech department on the selection and implementation of a new claims system in 2014 that focuses on data integration for all stakeholders.
"I see claims as part of a circle rather than an endpoint," she says. "You underwrite business which results in claims, which then impacts price and/or demand. Claims should feed information back into that cycle, so the next series of decisions and products comes out of claims data."
Since Homesite’s acquisition by American Family in 2013, Hanson has chaired a claims council for the entire organization, and takes a leadership role in mentoring women in the company.
"This job has been the most enjoyable I've ever had, because it changes every day, she says. "Insurance is a very traditional industry, but I'm fortunate that I'm in a company that wants to be creative, with an executive team that encourages innovation and risk taking, and supports me as an individual."
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