South Africa: Disruptors set to take market share as insurance firms are challenged to deliver a better customer experience

Traditional long term insurers must become more innovative and harness technology to improve customer experience, if they are to remain competitive, it emerged at a briefing hosted by Enterprise Ireland and ClaimVantage in Sandton this week.

Portland, ME, 4 November 2015ClaimVantage is an international provider of Life, Health, and Absence claim processing solutions for Employers, Insurance Companies, and Third Party Administrators (TPA’s).

Non-traditional insurance players are increasingly moving into the financial services space at the same time as traditional insurers find themselves challenged by a changing market with changing expectations, financial and insurance industry experts said at a briefing hosted by Enterprise Ireland and ClaimVantage.  The briefing, hosted by the Ambassador of Ireland, H.E. Mr. Liam Mac Gabhann, assessed local and global trends impacting life and disability claims.

Victor Muguto, Long Term Insurance Leader for PWC Africa, said social changes and advances in technology were emerging as the biggest game-changers for the insurance sector. “We need to review our financial services products and the channels we use to meet the needs of a changing market,” he said. Muguto noted that in Africa, rapid urbanisation, a growing middle class, and the rise of younger, more connected, consumers was driving demand for a focus on innovation and the delivery of tailored products. “The balance of power is shifting towards consumers, and technology is the big disruptor,” he said. He noted that competition would come from non-traditional channels such as retailers and telcos harnessing new technologies in future. However, he added that new technologies also presented a number of opportunities for traditional insurers: from the automation of underwriting and advanced analysis of customer data, through to the reduction of risk through the use of wearables and Internet of Things sensors.

Marika Mattheus, Insurance Compliance Manager at the Financial Services Board (FSB), noted that the FSB’s assessments of a number of 14 long and short term insurers in South Africa had revealed shortcomings and inconsistencies under the ‘Treating Customers Fairly’ banner. There are inconsistencies on the definition of what constitutes a claim, and on how turnaround time is measured by an insurer vs how a customer sees it, she said.  Mattheus noted that 70 – 80% of complaints against insurers are claims related, with a large number also related to a lack of feedback. Treating Customers Fairly needed greater focus she said, and steps needed to be taken to address issues such as the reduction of underwriting that happens at claims stage. “The long term insurance industry is making clients jump through hoops,” she said. Mattheus also suggested that soft skills training be implemented for insurance industry employees dealing with life insurance and disability claims: “This might be the worst moment of a person’s life. The agents need to have empathy,” she said.

To improve customer experience, enhance efficiencies and reduce operational costs, long term insurers need to transform their claims departments, said Leo Corcoran, CEO of ClaimVantage. “The claims department is often seen as the ‘poor relation’, hampered by legacy systems, with data residing in silos and with much of the work still done using paper, Access databases and Excel spreadsheets. This results in poor customer experience,” he said.

Corcoran said consolidating the data and automating claims processes across intake, adjudication and payments could streamline processes and enable far more effective claims management. However, claims department transformation could seem overwhelming to companies planning to embark on such a project. “Some companies try to tackle too much, which can result in over-engineering. It is preferable to take an agile, iterative approach to deliver quick wins,” he said.

Corcoran added that consolidated data in cloud-based data centres also supported service delivery innovations harnessing mobile and online applications. “South Africa is out of step with developments in North America, Europe and Asia, where insurers are moving to better service millennials via mobile. This is cumbersome or even impossible to do using very old silo legacy platforms,” he said.

ClaimVantage, an Irish-based international provider of automated claims processing software, is now moving more actively into the South African market with the support of Enterprise Ireland, which is the government organisation responsible for the development and growth of Irish enterprises in world markets. Enterprise Ireland works in partnership with Irish enterprises to help them start, grow, innovate and win export sales in global markets. In this way, Enterprise Ireland supports sustainable economic growth, regional development and secure employment.

Financial and insurance industry experts attended a briefing hosted by Enterprise Ireland and ClaimVantage this week. The briefing assessed local and global trends impacting life and disability claims. From left to right: H.E. Mr. Liam Mac Gabhann, Ambassador of Ireland in South Africa; John Murphy, Business Development Manager, ClaimVantage; William Crosse, Chairman of Business Ireland Southern Africa; Thembi Malebye, Market Advisor, Enterprise Ireland – Sub Saharan Africa and Leo Corcoran, CEO of ClaimVantage.

About ClaimVantage
ClaimVantage provides Life, Health, and Absence claim management software products to Insurance carriers, TPA’s, and employers, including two of the top 3 carriers in Canada, and two of the top ten carriers in the US. The company, with offices in Portland, Maine and Dublin, Ireland, provides efficient, accurate, and productive claims processing and absence management solutions. Visit:

Source: ClaimVantage

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