Proactive Claims Communication:

A Lost Art in Customer Service


By Dara Banga


Policyholder trust isn’t easily earned. Filing an insurance claim is stressful, even when things go well. With a quick online search, it’s easy to see that many people worry if their claims adjusters have their best interests at heart. “Dealing with a claims adjuster” is a common topic, and there are some former adjusters who confess to unscrupulous practices on the Internet. However, without the trust of the policyholder, the adjuster’s work is more difficult, and the insurer-client relationship can be damaged.


Fortunately, there is an inexpensive solution that helps build policyholder trust and create better claim outcomes. The solution is proactive communication. While it seems simple,

I can tell you that proactive communication is a lost art that is often absent in claims customer service.


Below are four tips to help you build more proactive claims communication practices:


1. Be ready to overcome preemptive impressions. First impressions mean a lot. But what about preemptive impressions? Preconceptions about claims adjusters can damage a relationship with a policyholder before it begins. Therefore, an adjuster’s first point of contact is paramount. Provide adjusters with a script to follow when they introduce themselves to policyholders either by phone or by email, and when they arrive onsite. The policyholder should know that the adjuster is a third party professional whose primary role is to make the insured whole again as quickly as possible. The policyholder should also understand that thorough claim investigation and documentation is required by the insurer and can also benefit the policyholder. Clearly explain the communication process and how the policyholder should route questions or additional information. Consider providing the adjuster a Frequently Asked Questions and Answers sheet.


2. Make the policyholder feel heard. We all know how to listen. But listening visibly is a different set of skills. You can defuse a stressful situation quickly by learning a technique based in therapy and conflict resolution: active listening. While insurance adjusters are not therapists, they must realize that they are dealing with people in the midst of personal loss and there are a lot of complicated emotions involved.


Active listening is about demonstrating that you are interested in what other people have to say, and giving them a chance to share their story without any sort of interruption. Taking notes, for example, is an interview technique which can regularly interrupt or put off the policyholder. Taking a recording of the conversation and taking notes later allows you to listen fully, and also to more carefully examine what the other party is saying.


Other techniques, such as asking open-ended questions about someone’s experience, making eye contact, and checking to see if you have understood can go a long way to making someone feel heard. And when people feel heard, they are more likely to share more of the truth. Active listening skills are transferrable to a number of situations, including conflict resolution.


3. Pay attention to the unspoken. “One way of looking at speech is to say that it is a constant stratagem to cover nakedness,” Nobel-prize winning playwright, Harold Pinter once said. Not all information is given verbally. In fact words are often used to conceal the truth, even unintentionally. Learning to read in to silence and body language is a very important aspect of getting to the truth, thereby allowing claims adjuster serve policyholders and insurers better.  Learning how to interview in a non-threatening manner can often help to reveal these truths, as people are less likely to act defensively if they feel heard and respected. Giving a policyholder a safe environment in which to express their feelings, not just the facts, can reveal more than you might expect.


4. Practice transparency. There is a statistical correlation between a transparent service, and loyal customers. It’s not enough to resolve claims with a satisfactory result. Without a quick and transparent claims process, even satisfied policyholders might switch insurers after making a claim. Claims adjusters can improve customer satisfaction be telling policyholders exactly what to expect for next steps and timelines. Satisfaction hinges on how reality lines up with expectations. So, expectation setting is a crucial claims adjusting role.


A final word


Independent claims adjusting firms deliver an important service at a stressful time in peoples’ lives. As an industry, it’s up to us to continuously raise the service bar. Proactive communication is a great place to start.


At DSB Claims, premier customer service comes standard. Learn more about our people and what policyholders say, and then contact us to test drive our services.



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