Claims Review 2022 – A Leader’s Perspective – Chris Hall, QuestGates

Claims Review 2022 – A Leader’s Perspective – Chris Hall, QuestGates

I’ve approached several Executives from different areas of the claims market, to share their thoughts and opinions on a number of topical issues impacting the sector throughout 2022 and looking at the key challenges and opportunities for 2023 and beyond.

 

Today’s review is with Chris Hall – Managing Director, QuestGates

 

 

 

 

It feels like we have reached a period of stabilisation when it comes to remote working. Would you say your organisation’s views on hybrid/remote working have changed post Covid?

Whilst prior to the pandemic over half of our staff (the majority of whom undertook site inspections) were home based, our general view prior to that time was that the productivity of desk-based staff would be adversely affected if they were not office based. However, experience showed that this was not the case although it is necessary to have a balance as training, development and mentoring are difficult if personnel don’t spend some of their working time in an office. In addition, staff mental health can be adversely affected if they do not get an opportunity to meet with colleagues face to face which is why we operate a flexible model which has been developed to work for the benefit of both the employee and us.

The pandemic forced us to invest in improvements to our technology including the acquisition of surveyor tech which supports a more flexible model whilst the cost of living crisis has made us look at better ways that we can help staff with the likes of childcare arrangements etc and has helped us to attract/retain staff. On reflection we seem to have now reached the right balance so that we get the best from staff interacting face to face and the benefits that remote working brings in terms of flexibility and a better work/life balance.

With ongoing supply chain shortages and the rising prices of goods, what measures are being taken to protect service and response times?

Whilst this is an issue affecting everyone, which we are working with clients to monitor and address, as a business we have always been focused on achieving the tricky balancing between customer service and cost control. Whilst the challenge has intensified, the tools we have at our disposal remain as valid and valuable as before. Of course, people are our most important asset when controlling the challenge and we already have evidence of great work which has benefited Clients and their Customers. This includes use of new technology, data and repair techniques.

Supply chain shortages have to an extent levelled off and are not having the same adverse impact as during Covid due to better planning and closer relationships with Suppliers. However, flexibility around settlement options to reduce elapsed times and therefore loss of rent / AA costs has also had an effect on better cost control. Work we have done around reserve accuracy ensures we are alive to cost / claim inflation factors and the impact this has on a case by case basis meaning actuaries are better informed on portfolio / binder / claim performance in real time rather than the shock of a reserve increase being back ended as the claim finalises – which therefore means rating is far more accurate.

What more can be done to validate the ESG credentials of insurance supply chains?

We don’t believe it is about validating what supply chains do. Its fundamentally about everyone working together with the same direction of travel and objectives. Ensuring that we work in partnership and tackling the same issues ensures that we move forward in a much more even and steady way. An example of this is sharing technology and data to ensure we all learn and benefit.

Some form of industry standard being adopted may help benchmarking – we are aware of some companies being far more progressive and creative than others in this area. In relation to the day to day activity of managing claims and assisting with a reduction in Scope 3 emissions, we have launched a carbon calculator to our suppliers which enables them to accurately calculate and understand the carbon impact of a building repair/build/remediation.

In addition, it is encouraging our suppliers and our adjusting teams to consider alternative methods of approach and use of materials which can positively reduce the impact of the works on the environment, creating a benchmark on both an individual claim basis and across the entire portfolio of work which will assist them and our clients with their ESG targets.

What is the greatest impact the cost of living crisis has had on your organization, and how have you responded?

As an owner managed business, we believe in liaising with our staff on a regular basis to establish what issues are affecting them and to obtain their input into what they feel we can / should be doing and the cost of living crisis has been high on everyone’s agenda. In addition, our partnership with Business In The Community enables us to stay in step with other businesses and the measures that they are taking to help staff overcome individual and collective issues including a focus on wellbeing, supporting staff but looking at each case on merits to identify what we can do to support i.e., flexible working etc, signposting to additional support and benefits.

Whilst as a professional services business which supports the living wage our staff are fortunately all reasonably well paid no one is exempt from the effects of inflation. One of the first impacts that we identified was that the price of fuel was adversely affecting those of our personnel who undertake site visits. We therefore increased our mileage allowances and introduced incentives to encourage the use of electric vehicles although the high mileage and rural areas that we cover meant that this was not presently a workable option for everyone.

Whilst we do not give automatic pay increases, we do have salary reviews and following liaison with staff we agreed a review of salaries and where appropriate increases to ensure that all remuneration was in line with our competitors and reflective of role and performance together with a single payment to all staff regardless of salary or role to assist meet increasing costs. Vital going forward will be keeping communication open and maintaining our culture which has been central to our success to date.

What event or reforms have had the greatest impact on claims during 2022?

There has been no major impact in terms of reforms, but Customer and Client demands grow all the time and post Covid this has accelerated and will continue to do. As a result, some clients have experienced their own issues around recruitment and retention of staff, and they have looked to us to fill the gaps in their service particularly due to the need to comply with the Consumer Duty requirements which come into force in 2023.

Claims inflation has become an increasing issue for everyone and led to an increasing concern re: the impact on policyholders of underinsurance and the potential negative implications for insurers and brokers. As the approved supplier of valuations to BIBA we have seen a substantial increase in requests for our valuation services which have revealed that this remains a major issue which can only become worse.

What key recruitment challenges have you faced this year, and how have you addressed these issues?

Finding staff with the right attitude, experience and expertise to undertake the type of work that we do at QuestGates and the standards that we demand is not easy, but this is not a new problem. As a result, we work closely with both recruiters and take staff referrals which has to date worked well for us.

We have a strong focus on succession planning and having clear career paths for staff which enables them to meet their ambitions within the business. However increasingly we are recruiting staff with a view to training, developing and monitoring them as having the right attitude, drive, soft skills and ambition is vital and we have been adding apprentices to support this is various parts of our business.

What more can the industry do to attract talent into the claims sector?

As an industry we do not do enough to demonstrate the professionalism, career prospects or satisfaction of working on claims and need to do more to harness a wider range of experience, age and diverse backgrounds to ensure that Insurance is seen as a good career option. We can certainly do more to promote the wide nature of the market – i.e., the higher profile claims, specialisms such as Cyber / Contingency are likely to appeal to more to a younger demographic, but will they realise this? Many students obtain degrees in surveying, engineering, accounting etc which are needed in our industry, but I suspect that few consider a career in insurance claims.

What is the greatest challenge facing the claims market moving into 2023 and beyond?

Surge is always the biggest single threat to the industry and with the increase in the use of digital solutions and reduction in the volume of day to day claims being dealt with by experienced handlers the ability to react to short term surge incidents where the extent and value of damage can be high is an increasing concern. Being able to up scale the operations in some cases 10 times normal capacity is a challenge and cannot be done without lots of advance planning and also investment in terms of both time and money.

Staying relevant in an ever changing and diverse market, where claims handling is so much more than just being good technically is also a continuing challenge as is aligning Net Zero strategies to claims philosophies and wordings. However, these are challenges which our commitment and expertise will enable us to meet.

Right International are market leading recruiters to the Loss Adjusting, Claims and wider Insurance market

If you are looking to add to your team now or in the near future or are considering your next career move, please contact myself or one of the team

All the best,

Gary Pike

Founder & MD Right International