This article originally published at InsNerds.com
It seems like only yesterday I was walking up to the next drill station at summer basketball camp. I can still hear the former head scout of the Boston Celtics leading off this drill:
“Over this week you’ll hear a lot of smart people telling you things like ‘rebounds win games’ and ‘defense wins championships.’ Well if you look up at that scoreboard, I only see one stat and that’s points. You don’t earn a win by having the most rebounds or the most defensive stops. You win by having the most amount of points. I’m here to tell you that shooting is the most important thing you’ll learn here this week.”
Whether you’re new in insurance or have spent decades in the industry, you’ve probably had a lot of smart people telling you things like underwriting, sales, marketing etc. are the best parts of the company. Sure, they’re very important, but I’m here to tell you to look at the scoreboard. We don’t win our games with sales or underwriting successes — as much as it does put us in great position to do so.
Remember, when Flo is selling that white box, there’s only one thing in there: a promise. We’re selling a promise that our claims organizations will be there to pick up the pieces when our customers experience a loss. When the rubber meets the road, an insurance company is only as good as the claims team assisting customers in their time of need. This is usually an extremely emotional time as we’re speaking to these customers when something went wrong with their family business, their home, or their car — the things they’ve devoted so much time and effort toward.
If we read the books, manuals, and job descriptions of the many roles in Claims, they all say in simplest terms that us Claims folks are here to return individuals to their pre-loss condition. Well, yeah. But it’s so much more than that. Listening to what they’re going through and really caring what they’re relaying is key. It is such a unique opportunity to be able to have such an impact on a person’s life and helping them get back on track.
I vividly know the moment when insurance stopped being a bi-weekly, paycheck job and turned into my career — or as Tony Cañas refers to it: a calling. I received a first party medical claim with a description of a roll-over motor vehicle accident with serious injuries. I was going through the motions of my initial investigation until I spoke to Mrs. Insured. I did not know it when I made the call, but almost instantly I felt the change.
Mrs. Insured was the passenger of the vehicle that was being driven by her husband when it rolled over, killing him instantly and leaving her with a fractured neck requiring a halo to stabilize. I could have started in on where she went to the hospital, what was on tap for treatment, etc. etc., but like I said, this was my change. All those empathy and communication courses that were once formalities were now the foundation of my relationship with Mrs. Insured. That’s right, relationship. This was not another policy number or a claim to close, this was now somebody that I needed to help through this awful experience.
Every month I would talk to Mrs. Insured about memories she had, like camping trips she took on a regular basis and telling me about the last one she would ever take with her husband. Sure, my average call handle time may have increased and some tasks needed to be re-prioritized, but I was there for Mrs. Insured. On a base level, I helped her with the bills and lost wages, but the biggest help was to be there to listen. We developed a relationship that we both needed. By being there and truly listening, I know that Mrs. Insured became a customer for life and, concurrently, I became and insurance professional for life.
True, this was an extreme case, but even a small fender-bender to someone’s vehicle can have a huge impact on their life. That vehicle may have been a gift from a relative, it could have been their first car, it could even be something they had to work overtime every weekend to be able to afford. Without listening to what they’re going through, we may not be able to help them through it. We as the Claims professionals can have the impact to improve the experience they’re going through with just listening and caring about their situation. These simple tasks can mean so much to the individual and, in the long run, mean so much to the relationship between the individual and the insurance company.
On the front lines in Claims, we have so much impact to our companies’ bottom lines. I tell our team on a regular basis that we are the company’s retention specialists. What we do in every interaction with a customer is essential to our success. That one call or one visit to a loss location may be the last opportunity to keep a customer for life or lose them to a competitor. This doesn’t just apply to customers, as we can act as marketers for our company as well. We can have such an impact on a third-party claimant’s experience through the service we provide that they may seek out a quote.
We are the ones keeping the promise, helping people in their time of need, retaining business, earning new customers. How is Claims not the place to be? Having said that, insurance is still a team game. Just like a basketball team needs rebounding and defense to supplement scoring to win, an insurance company needs a well rounded team to be successful. Although at the end of the season, I’m voting for Claims as MVP.