The image of One World Trade Center in New York approaching its topping off ceremony, or New Orleans welcoming visitors to conventions in the city, is a testament to the crucial work of the insurance claims community responding to the needs of their clients. That was the message that Joe Plumeri, Chairman and CEO of global insurance broker Willis Group Holdings (NYSE: WSH), carried to a major claims conference in Chicago earlier this week.
Speaking at the Swiss Re Americas Claims Conference, Plumeri said: “the role of insurance carriers and insurance brokers working as quickly as possible to settle claims when people need resources to rebuild must not be undervalued. These are great stories of the insurance industry doing its job, and claims professionals should be justifiably proud of their critical role in the process.”
Plumeri applauded the audience of senior claims professionals on a steady improvement in performance as measured by Willis’s own carrier rating system, the Willis Quality Index, which was initiated in 2007 to give insurance carriers direct feedback on a range of measures about their services. The average score for claims performance across areas such as attitude, technical support, and timely approval and payment, has increased steadily over the last three years.
The Swiss Re conference, held in Chicago every other year, brings together claims professionals from across insurers, reinsurers and brokers to share best practices to help improve response times, service levels and outcomes across the profession.
In his keynote address, “A Decade’s Journey Through The Insurance Industry (And What The Next Decade Holds)”, Plumeri used the occasion to review the major challenges the industry has faced, highlight some of the new risks that have emerged over the last ten years, and chart a course for the next ten years in which economic recovery and an emergent global middle class will create increased demand for coverage, and claims management, to address a new set of risks.
“Together we’ve made huge strides in recent years: claims issues are higher up the agenda, more claims people are moving into leadership, and service is improving along with expectations. But there’s still some way to go, claims is fundamental to the insurance experience, it needs to be at the forefront of everything we do,” he continued.
In his presentation, Plumeri discussed six trends that Willis has identified through its Strategic Outcomes Practice, which manages major claims on behalf of its clients. These trends include 1) an increase in underwriting scrutiny, documentation and claim audit; 2) the impact of issues such as supply chain risk, government-ordered blackouts and post-catastrophe movements of populations on business interruption coverage; 3) the emergence of “haboobs,” or massive movements of sand, into commercially-sensitive areas; 4) the impact of solar flares on communications systems; 5) the emergence of ‘space junk’ as a new risk to operational satellites and ground populations; and 6) conflicting forecasts for severe weather among expert groups.