Claims is at the heart of any insurance experience. After all, insureds look to their insurers for peace of mind should they suffer a loss. When they purchase an insurance policy, they’re placing trust in the carrier to be there for them when they’re down on their luck and looking to be made whole again.
Savvy insurers will make claims excellence a top priority, setting themselves apart in a crowded marketplace.
Why superior claims service matters
For insureds, the benefits of claims excellence are clear. When their claims are handled quickly and efficiently, they become satisfied and loyal customers.
Top-tier claims service can help insurers build a strong reputation in the market. Happy insureds are more likely to buy additional policies from an insurer they have had a positive experience with. They’re also more likely to tell their friends and family. This results in referral business, which can help the insurer gain market share.
“Our team at Virtue Risk Partners believe an insured’s claims experience is one of the single most important factors that can build long-term loyalty in any program,” says Joe Valenza, president of Virtue Risk Partners, LLC.
A well-managed claims process also help insurers manage their costs. When they improve the claims experience, they can lower their claims-related expenses and boost their profitability. At the same time, a healthy claims process will comply with regulations and laws, which helps insurers avoid penalties and fines, further helping them control costs.
Claims with a personal touch
In its pursuit of claims excellence, the team at Virtue Risk Partners focuses on a personal-touch claims philosophy to help them stand out from their competitors.
Daniel Lavoie, who is the director of claims at Virtue Risk Partners and an environmental insurance and law expert with 30 years’ experience, speaks with every insured on every claim to make sure that Virtue and Nationwide understands all the facts and circumstances surrounding the loss.
“Daniel is the single point of contact for all claims, and we have found this builds lasting trust in the process and in Virtue as an institution,” notes Valenza.
The entire team also involves insureds every step of the way throughout the claims process, including during initial liability assessments, defense strategy planning and settlement discussions. They also collaborate with insureds to draft initial liability denial letters on the insured’s letterhead to integrate them into the process, establish a contemporaneous record in the insured’s own words, and to give the denial letter greater credibility at the outset.
Keeping it in-house
Insureds can sometimes feel like the claims process is transactional. At Virtue Risk Partners, the team avoids this impersonal approach by adjusting all claims in-house without support from third-party administrators or junior claims staff.
“This gives us much greater understanding and control over the entire process,” says Valenza. “This aspect of a client-focused service is of paramount importance and is how we create long-term partnerships.”
The value of any insurance program comes down to the level of service insureds receive once a claim is presented, and this highly personalized approach supports a culture of claims excellence across the board.
Making transparency a priority when challenges arise
Sometimes things don’t go as smoothly as planned. When litigation does arise, the team at Virtue Risk Partners keeps insureds well informed along the way. Virtue takes an active role in supervising its panel counsel to ensure that cases are litigated in the most efficient manner possible given the complexities of the judicial system and the realities of social inflation in certain jurisdictions across the country. They also offer in-house settlement authority and proactive litigation management, which can further add clarity for insureds.
“If coverage issues arise, our practice is to immediately bring them to the attention of the insureds and our producers so there are no surprises,” explains Valenza. “Our team has found that this transparency goes a long way to building trust.”
They accomplish this by inviting discussion about coverage issues and encouraging insureds and producers to provide them with their perspectives on how terms, conditions and exclusions should be applied in any given claim scenario. This can lead to spirited discussions on coverage issues, which have proven to strengthen their relationships with their partners.
“We believe conducting our coverage reviews in an open and honest manner is a winning strategy, and we know our insureds and producers feel the same way,” he adds.
Earning loyalty through excellence
Claims excellence leaves a powerful impression on insureds, and they reward it with their wallets. At Virtue Risk Partners, the team has been very successful retaining accounts that have had claims activity despite having corresponding increases in rates and premiums at renewal time. They chalk this loyalty up to the positive claims experience they work so hard to provide.
“We have been told specifically that insureds have chosen to renew with Virtue Partners because of the quality of our claims service, even when cheaper renewal options were available,” sums up Valenza. “This is one of the greatest validations for our claims philosophy we can imagine.”