The First Notification of Loss market is changing fast, as technology offers companies the chance to deliver a quicker, and more bespoke service to the customer. Insurance Edge caught up with Lyndon Willshire, Head of Sales at Cheshire based ALPS, to find out more.
IE: What impact has AI/Automated tech had on FNOL and breakdown in general?
LW: Across the industry there is a move towards offering customers various smartphone apps, so that drivers can collate information, gather and upload photos at the scene of an incident, or just report a breakdown via a portal. This is helpful when the customer has the time and is in a safe environment, but in our experience when people are stuck at the side of the carriageway they are usually in a state of panic, and so they really appreciate having someone at the other end of a phone line.
Where Artificial Intelligence really scores is with regards to the back office, especially when a claim is received. It can help streamline the data surrounding the incident, assess damage, recognise parts, predict what repairs are necessary, prepare estimates, locate the nearest dealership or specialised repair centre and even detect potential fraud etc. AI can also pay genuine claims out quicker, and that’s a really positive benefit for long term customer relationships.
From a breakdown perspective, the immediate benefit is the improvement in the accuracy of information for both location and breakdown diagnosis. There will be distinct cost saving benefits that are derived from digital information and significant efficiencies, by reducing double-handling and deploying the correct resource first time. This is one of the biggest industry grumbles – wrong type of recovery vehicle sent for the vehicle involved.
There are certainly trends emerging where manufacturers are building-in an emergency response as part of the car’s software and electronics. This means that diagnosing the nature of the fault that caused a breakdown, detailing the exact GPS location, plus putting in an automated call to a recovery agent, are all likely to become industry standard features over the next few years.
IE: Many new cars take a data snapshot of events leading up to an incident. Does this data help ALPS decide which recovery vehicle should attend, and then locate the best repair centre for the damaged vehicle?
LW: It can yes, but there’s still a place for an old fashioned conversation between the driver and the ALPS operator. We have a saying which is, `Right response, first time.’ What we are always trying to do is avoid a situation where the wrong recovery vehicle is sent out for example a low-to-ground sports car, or a valuable classic that needs extra protection from the elements. We get it right, first time.
You don’t want your call handlers to double up on phone time, trying to re-configure the recovery, or update the recovery agent in the field again. Getting it right first time means getting all the bits of information you need from the customer, not just a telematics box in the vehicle, because there are other factors at play when it comes to recovery beyond the straightforward moving of a damaged vehicle to a repair centre.
We also send drivers a tracking link, very similar to the online maps and software that allows you to track a package being delivered. We find that if customers know exactly how far away their recovery vehicle is, how quickly it’s progressing, they’re less likely to phone in again asking for an update. Effective communication is key both for efficiency and for good customer experience.
IE: What particular challenges surround the repair and recovery of 999 vehicles?
LW: Without doubt that is a specialised part of the recovery market and so we have trusted partner companies that handle those. One of our partners, The Mansfield Group, has 18 centres across the UK and they have vast experience when it comes to handling unique vehicles.
IE: Tell us more about how insurance brokers can gain a competitive edge with ALPS services.
LW: ALPS is a leading provider of motor claims solutions, legal expenses and additional products to insurance brokers, networks and intermediaries throughout the UK. We have been in business for over 20 years now and I’ve personally worked in the insurance sector for 30 years. You learn a lot about brokers in that time! Our blend of experience within claims, breakdown recovery, legal expenses and add-on policies, can be tailored to align with a broker’s and their client’s needs. We’re always trying to provide exactly the right package of cover and services for the right risk. We also work closely with brokers to provide the training they need on our add-on products to ensure they understand the product wordings, how the policy works and that these are sold compliantly.
IE: Can the ALPS service be bolted onto a fleet policy seamlessly, so that a broker can offer a wraparound package to their customers?
LW: Absolutely, yes. ALPS is expert in providing a range of solutions ranging from uninsured loss recovery, motor breakdown, to a complete end to end claims solutions depending on the broker or client’s requirements.
The proposition can be built for the whole of the broker’s fleet portfolio providing a consistent, high level service offering or bespoke for a specific fleet. From First Notification of Loss, managing the entire claim process including repairs, providing courtesy vehicles or pursuing a negligent third party or their insurers to recover uninsured losses, excesses, damage repairs, hire vehicle costs, personal injuries etc even up to litigation through our in-house law firm. Our motor breakdown product provides that complete umbrella protection.
ALPS is able to provide a full suite of MI to the broker and fleet manager on things like the claims activity and performance of the fleet (even by driver), identify driver training, or number of damage recoveries made. With regard to breakdown recovery MI could identify– poor driving habits, lack of maintenance, common faults etc.
Our in-house legal service provides the legal muscle to pursue claims whilst providing full visibility of case progress to the broker and client, keeping them fully informed at every stage.
IE: Will ALPS be attending any shows and conferences this year?
LW: Yes, we will definitely be at BIBA Manchester in May again this year, looking forward to meeting broker customers and friends from across the industry. We’re looking at other events too. Insurance is a people business – we try to spend as much time as possible being visible in the market, getting out and meeting brokers.
IE: We have to mention Brexit, what changes do you see to European assistance; extra costs in recovery, extra paperwork in terms of signing off a commercial van for use across the Channel perhaps?
LW: Recovery of vehicles across the EU doesn’t seem likely to fundamentally change, no matter what the outcome of the current negotiations. If we leave there could be some extra costs or paperwork to complete when crossing the Irish border, or from mainland Europe back to the UK. But we don’t foresee any big changes, or delays in getting vehicles back to Britain.
Our high level of service, putting brokers and customers first, will continue when Brexit is just a distant memory.
IE: Thanks for your time Lyndon, have a busy 2019.