Motorists are involved in an accident every 60 seconds in the U.S., and the damage, injury and stress can complicate an already difficult situation. Insurers face the challenging task of getting accurate information as quickly as possible to manage loss cost and additional expenses, while supporting policyholders in their moment of need.
However, only half of drivers involved in an accident end up filing a claim. Of those claimants, just 9% to 13% provide first notice of loss (FNOL) from the scene of the accident. Receiving FNOL after the vehicle leaves the accident scene can lead to much higher costs and longer cycle times for insurers. Rather than the insurance company initiating a tow directly to the repair shop, the vehicle will likely spend five to six days captured in tow storage, lengthening the process (and frustrating the policyholder) while also increasing transport and storage fees.
With the right tools and accident scene management processes in place, insurers can quickly receive notice of an accident along with the information needed to enable earlier loss determination and ensure proper vehicle routing to streamline the claims process and avoid secondary expenses. Let’s explore three ways insurers can save time, frustration and money while handling accident claims.
Recover more vehicles from the accident scene with crash detection response
Crash detection technology is poised to go mainstream with both insurers and auto manufacturers, and it promises to have major long-term impacts on claims and repair. But with the average age of vehicles on the road today exceeding 12 years, we are likely still more than a decade away from reaching a critical mass of connected cars. Smartphones, on the other hand, are prevalent throughout the world, with 90% of consumers owning one. And there’s a very strong chance these devices will be in the vehicle at the time of an accident.
These devices contain many sensors that, combined with optimized algorithms available through an appropriate mobile telematics app component, can accurately predict the severity of the crash to determine if there are injuries and identify the likelihood of a vehicle being undrivable. Beyond the obvious – and extremely important – health and welfare benefits of instant accident notification, the technology also significantly improves the overall accident management process. With crash detection technology in place, especially when tied into accident response and insurer claims management systems, first responders and insurance companies receive near-instant notification that an accident has occurred.
In addition to these notification and claim initiation benefits, crash detection technology allows for more accurate liability determination and automatically connects the driver to their insurer for help immediately following an accident. Current FNOL processes are typically based on rudimentary inputs, often collected orally from the policyholder. Digital telemetry and crash reconstruction data can not only shed light on the collision itself (force of impact, etc.) but also the events leading up to the crash, including whether the driver was talking, texting or using an app on their phone, overall vehicle speed, if the brakes were engaged before the collision, and more.
See also: 'Digital' Needs a Personal Touch
Enable digital intake and follow-up with an accident management dashboard
Connecting an insurer’s claims system to a mobile app provides the option to submit details of the accident digitally, removing the barrier of a phone call and in turn reducing congestion from the contact center. Not only does this simplify the customer experience, but it also uses contact center resources more efficiently. Location data and details can also be automatically detected, automating the collection and sharing of essential case information.
However, even in cases where a customer reports the accident directly from the scene, incomplete information can require additional follow-up calls that delay vehicle pickup and overall cycle time. With added delays also comes the risk of keeping the vehicle in storage, accumulating storage and rental fees as the missing information is collected. To avoid follow-up calls that further delay cycle time, implementing digital communication tools can help fill in these missing blanks.
An accident management dashboard makes it easy to handle and update cases through an easy-to-use interface. It also helps to expedite follow-up communication when additional action or information is required through a digital communication feature – all while eliminating the need for an outbound phone call. Instead, claims handlers can digitally update final tow destination, approve advanced changes, share updates, and request receipts. Because this is all done digitally, the requested information can be shared much quicker to ensure there are no hiccups that delay cycle time.
Leverage data and experience to alleviate vehicle release complexity
When a vehicle is not recovered from the accident scene, a new challenge arises: dealing with the vehicle release. The vehicle release process can be rather complex due to varying requirements from state to state and even shop to shop. Whether it’s negotiating release fees, cash requirements or processes and paperwork, securing a vehicle release from a storage yard or salvage lot requires a certain level of expertise. Without this experience, release costs can also add up, and cycle time can be extended by an industry average of five to 15 days.
Experience in accident management significantly simplifies the complexities of releasing a vehicle from storage. Look for an accident management partner that has navigated this landscape and can leverage extensive data on historical release charges and regulations to anticipate requirements and negotiate the best release fees. In addition, your partner should have a team of dedicated release coordinators that will manage the entire release process, ensuring your agents can remain focused on your policyholders. Even in cases where on-scene capture was not possible, insurers can still benefit from simplicity, cost reduction and a shorter process for policyholders.
There are many challenges and complexities with managing the accident lifecycle efficiently, but embracing a digital approach and leveraging an experienced partner reduces these roadblocks to deliver exponential benefits for policyholders and your claims organization. While some costs are unavoidable, these three approaches can help insurers reduce cycle time and manage costly, complex and time-consuming claims processes. That’s good news for everyone involved.