The digitalization of property insurance claims is well underway, with many large carriers leveraging drone technology, and investing in mobile apps for consumers and adjusters, with the goal of increasing efficiency in this process.

But there is still room for improvement, says Mark Garrett, director of insurance industry analytics at J.D. Power & Associates. The market research firm’s latest consumer survey on property satisfaction claims found that policyholders like using technology, but there is often an awareness or capability gap between them and their insurers.

Garrett says that consumers generally still want to speak to a live adjuster at the outset of their claim. However, that doesn’t mean they don’t also use digital channels along with that: 65% of the more than 6,600 property claimants surveyed sent photos or videos of their claim by e-mail or mobile app to their adjuster to augment their claim. That’s twice the rate as auto.

“Insurers are investing in technology, trying to mobile-optimize their portal on a customer’s phone or creating apps,” Garrett says. “Customers often have a lot of questions, so they want to talk to people [at first notice of loss], but if they can get e-mail alerts or see progress in a portal – getting information pushed to them – they like it.”

In fact, Garrett says, satisfaction with the claim process fell if the digital interaction an insurer provided to a customer required that customer to take an action to get the information they seek. He cited, for example, an email that tells the customer an update to their claim status is available if they log in to the site or call a number, but doesn’t just give the update.

“We see some of our lowest satisfaction scores when customers still have to do some effort and the technology isn’t answering their question -- lower than people who don’t use technology at all,” he says.

That’s because one of the biggest complaints consumers have about their claim is availability – that is, the ability to reach an adjuster while the claim is in process. Robust digital technology that provides the updates consumers seek about their claim while not leaving them waiting for a returned phone call is a big opportunity for insurers, Garrett says.

Amica Mutual and The Hanover tied for first place in J.D. Power’s study, with 893 points on the company’s 1000-point scale measuring customer satisfaction. They were followed by Nationwide (882), Encompass (881), Chubb (880) and Auto-Owners Insurance (878).

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