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Ease Of Funeral Claims In A Growing Claims Environment

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Assisting the beneficiary during the claims process

International trends show a significant possibility of a resurgence of Covid 19 hitting South Africa in the next few months. Considering the significant increase in life insurance and funeral claims over the past year, and especially during the second wave, it is now more crucial than ever for insurers and financial advisers, to provide policy beneficiaries with the exemplary service that they deserve at such a challenging time in their lives, says Kobus Wentzel, Head of Distribution at 1Life. 

Simplifying the journey

Insurers and financial advisers’ job is to make the journey easier for the beneficiaries by delivering on the promise of efficient customer service and of course, paying out valid claims.

After the death of a loved one, beneficiaries are often in a state of shock. They have to deal with an estate that needs to be wrapped up, with no real time to think about what is required. They have to obtain the relevant documents from government departments and banks to set the wheels of the claim in motion whilst in the midst of the grieving process.  This is no easy task and whilst we as Insurers and Financial Advisers can deal with matters respectfully and empathetically, the claims process remains daunting. 

In truth, wrapping up an estate can take years – in the meantime, funerals need to be organised and costs need to be taken care of, placing the urgency around funeral claims pay-out front and centre.

Claims in a Covid-19 world 

This past year has proven a big challenge for the industry at large where Covid-19, has caused an unprecedented escalation of death rates over a very short period of time. At the time of writing this article, South Africa had reached 53 173 confirmed Covid deaths, and two million globally.

This escalation has put enormous pressure on the insurance industry, and especially within the funeral claims sector. The pressure has escalated, not only from a process perspective, but also due to the sheer volume of claims that had to and are still being processed. 

Anton Keet, Head of Claims at 1Life, says that: “By July 2020, 1Life funeral claims had almost doubled and by the time the second wave of Covid-19 hit, that number had escalated again”

“Pandemics like Covid-19 don’t come along very often and are so beyond anything we can imagine that it is hard to plan for. But as insurers and financial advisers, we have a responsibility to be prepared in case they do occur and it’s impossible to do this planning on the fly. Which is why we set out two years ago to create efficiencies in the funeral claims space – making it quicker to process and turn a claim around for the consumer where the use of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are driving a significant shift in the way we can better manage any potential influx and pressure on the claims process – without having to shift the business significantly,” continues Keet.

“For example, we are able to assess selected funeral policy claims for pay out within only 3-minutes which enables us to better service the sector in terms of expediating claim turnaround times, removing human error as far as possible and, for us, ensuring that our customers’ interactions with our business are quicker and more convenient.”

Long-term planning is a requirement 

Insurers today need to focus on creating digital solutions that aim to meet the challenges head-on. With the pandemic fueling the world into a digitised era, industries such as insurance had to start evaluating the normal claims process over two years ago.  Due to the need for a simpler and faster turnaround, robotic process automation (RPA) was implemented into the claims process. RPA ensures that the repetitive, administrative side of the claims process is taken care of with precision and speed, enabling the financial adviser to concentrate on providing support to the client and then ultimately the beneficiaries, while the system does the heavy lifting. True human–technology collaboration.

Keet says: “This is enabling our business to not only meet their normal service levels with regards to claims registration and pay-outs during the pandemic, but to also improve on existing service levels.”

With the birth of technology in the space, we are seeing 70% of all funeral claims registered within 3 – 4 minutes and it takes only 8 – 9 hours for beneficiaries to receive the claim pay-out.

Advice for the adviser

Because a funeral policy is such a grudge purchase, people don’t always see the value. “This is certainly the case in the more affluent market, and this is where financial advisers can make a difference. We need to look beyond the premium cost and product benefits when providing advice to clients and ensure that they are looking at the entire value chain and claims philosophy before a decision is made,” continues Wentzel.

At the end of the day, insurers need to create trust based on whether they can prove their claims processing turnaround times. For the broker, it is about ensuring that they communicate with their client, understand the entire claims process, how it will work and what beneficiaries will receive in the case of a claim. In addition, ensuring that the client’s beneficiaries understand the process and are informed about both the product and the claims process is crucial.”  

“Financial advisers can demonstrate to clients that claims experience will be easier, faster, and reliable in today’s digitised world. Moreover, it places advisers in a position to truly unlock value for client beneficiaries when the time comes,” Wentzel concludes.

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