Technology’s tightening grip on the insurance industry is highlighted by a new report published today, which shows that more people than ever are prepared to have their claim handled completely online rather than by a person.
But the split is narrow, with 50% preferring online processing compared with 45% wanting the human touch.
So it’s crucial that the rapid shift towards customer self-service is balanced with human interaction where customers want it, says leading personal injury specialist Minster Law, which commissioned the survey.
Minster Law points to the fact that one in three people (33%) have concerns about entrusting their claims to robotics, with the risk of criminals accessing their data, protection of privacy, and not having the reassurance of legal support if they need it, topping the list of worries.
The survey also reveals that simplicity, speed of claims processing, and peace of mind are more important to most people when it comes to insurance than getting the cheapest premiums.
The UK-wide survey, commissioned from Consumer Intelligence, was carried out to gauge consumer attitudes towards the use of the technology in the claims process.
More than 2000 people were questioned, and more than a third of them (36%) had made claims in the previous five years. Encouragingly for the industry, 70% rated their claims experience as outstanding or good.
Not surprisingly, it’s the older 55+ group who would most like a human to deal with their claim (54%), but the group most keen on a completely online process, with 55% in favour, are those aged 35-54. Our findings demonstrate that it would be incorrect to assume that the younger generation are the most comfortable with technology. In fact those under 35 are just as cautious around technology as the over 55s.
Minster Law CEO Shirley Woolham says the findings highlight the speed with which people are adapting to, and adopting, technological advances to make life easier and save time.
“It’s not surprising that people aged 35-54 are most likely to prefer to do things online – they’re the most likely to be responsible for managing insurance for the household, and they tend to have the most demands on their time,” she said.
“It’s also the case that this age group has ‘grown up’ with the IT revolution and is perhaps most comfortable having technology play a central part in their lives.
“But we need to think about all customers, not just this particular demographic. Our research underlines that many people still want to deal with human beings at the stressful point of making a claim, and the reassurance that they’re there to give support if something goes wrong, so we’re a long way off replacing them altogether.
“And we found that people have real concerns about their privacy and data protection, so it’s crucial that they are reassured that the technology they’re using is safe and secure, as well as easy and quick to use.”
Woolham said that Minster Law had developed its own online small claims journey, but has built in the chance for customers to speak to a human being if they want to. And she warned that Government plans to build a fully online portal to manage injury claims, due to be implemented in 2020, risked excluding hundreds of thousands of claimants who couldn’t or didn’t want to manage their claim online.
She said: “That same 35-54 UK demographic is largely responsible for decision-making, including policy decisions within government. Our research shows that not everyone shares their enthusiasm for technology.”
“At Minster Law our overriding objective was to understand exactly what our clients wanted and build from there. It is pointless and expensive to impose a system that suits the administrator, but not the customer. We hope the MoJ and the MIB (sponsors and builders of the new portal respectively) are listening and we’d be delighted to share our research with them.”
Woolham noted that while nearly half (46%) of people were happy to use AI to resolve civil disputes, including divorce and injury claims, there was less appetite to do so for criminal cases – although 28% of respondents said they would consider using AI instead of judges in the criminal court if the process resulted in a fair outcome.
Other findings from the survey include:
- Claims made by those questioned in the past five years were: motor 16%; travel 10%; household 10%; personal injury 9%; financial mis-selling 8%; health 7%; credit hire and other 4%
- Younger and less well-off respondents are more likely to have claimed in the last five years
- More than two thirds (68%) of personal injury claimants used a lawyer
- Nearly one in four (39%) would consider buying a driverless car if technology lowered the risk of accidents