handl Engage post-whiplash reform response “good for claimants, good for insurers”
“Unhappy customers, left feeling high and dry, will reflect badly when the customer’s renewal comes around” Coplus’ James Blyth examines how handl Group is helping more insurers to discover the best way of responding to the whiplash reforms.
When the new whiplash claims reforms take effect from June 2021, the impact on claimants and insurers could be substantial. At the front end of the changes will be handl Group company Coplus, the industry-leading motor legal expenses provider and claims handler whose agents will see the real-world effect of the changes up close.
“This is something completely new for claimants,” explains Coplus Managing Director for the Claims Division James Blyth. “In some respects it’s easy – the new Official Injury Claim Portal (OIC) has been designed that way. However it’s only easy if you don’t hit a bump in the road – pardon the pun.
“The concern has to be that someone who has a neck injury looks at the portal, the requirement for a medical, the inconvenience to their personal time, being overwhelmed by the responses from the defending side, and feels that it’s just too difficult. If they don’t have motor legal cover, or have a policy which doesn’t include small claims, which may be the case, then what will they do?
“Our expectation is that a lot of people will feel unrepresented. The consequences down the line for insurers and brokers could be unhappy customers, left feeling high and dry, which will reflect badly when the customer’s renewal comes around. Brokers and insurers have to have a solution to make the claimant feel supported.”
A proactive system for a reactive process
Engage from handl Group is a response to that challenge, and it’s a response that is being enthusiastically received by the industry. A holistic approach to the post-reform landscape, Engage brings together six handl Group companies to deliver an end to end or modular service that spans comprehensive legal expenses insurance, rapid claims handling, credit hire, accident management, expert medical reporting, rehabilitation and arbitration services to fully support the claimants and insurers.
The lack of public awareness regarding the introduction of the OIC will place an even greater importance on the work of Coplus. “It falls to us to do the explaining and to keep the claimant fully informed from the beginning and not finding things out later down the line”, says James.
“Claimants will want to know why the compensation amount for their whiplash claim isn’t the £3,000 they assumed they would get or why their case doesn’t qualify as ‘high value’ even though they’ve been off work for a month. It’s imperative that we take care of vulnerable customers too. It’s an unfamiliar process for everyone so even turning to the experience of a friend or family member for help isn’t going to be possible. As a regulated business we take great care to ensure what we do is accessible and understandable for all."
“We’ve had to map those conversations and build a proactive system to fix a reactive process”, he adds. “That starts by getting a really good understanding of the claimant. We feel that, by capturing as much as we can in that first call and giving as much information as we can – as much as the claimant can reasonably take in – we’re providing something immensely valuable.”
A concierge service for a new world
James is confident about the even greater value of LEI to motorists. As everything changes, having LEI is one way of ensuring that, at least from the claimant’s perspective, the process feels the same. However penetration of Motor Legal Protection is typically around 30% for most insurers so a solution for those without cover is also essential.
“If they have LEI, claimants will never see the claims portal. We’ll take all the information and integrate it with the OIC for them. All they will see is On Track, our client-facing system that enables them to check and track their claim and upload evidence. The outcome of their claim may be different as a result of the reforms, but for those with LEI the process is really no different to how it is now.”
“We’ve developed this solution to be inclusive, not exclusive,” he stresses. If the claimant doesn’t have LEI we can still provide the concierge service subject to a deduction from the settlement. And as we are regulated, claimants can have confidence that will always be a fair deduction.”
The value isn’t only to claimants. “We manage claimant expectations and are completely transparent. We proactively manage the claim to settlement and introduce rehabilitation for claimants to reduce prognosis. We work to reduce the lifecycle of claims. All of that doesn’t just lead to happier customers, it leads to reduced frictional costs for insurers too.”
The handl difference
James is clear about the ways in which being part of the hand Group is benefiting claimants and insurers.
“Being part of handl Group means we are also able to better understand the implications of our processes on the stages that follow – on medical reporting, for example. That has enabled us to structure our technology and data capture at the front end when assessing the severity of an injury and its prognosis which ensures we triage the claim accurately. It’s been really good to have a group where we can share knowledge and expertise.”
People plus tech
handl Engage launched with ‘people plus tech’ as the driving force behind the solution. In common with the group at large, James knows it is not the tech itself that matters, but its effect on outcomes. “The technology enables our agents to deliver the best possible outcome for claimants and insurers,” he says. “The conversations are still agent led – which is crucial, because only an agent can make inferences, read subtext or asses a caller’s mindset. The technology helps build the picture and direct the flow of the conversation but the agent remains in control and decisions still rest with the customer.”
It’s an approach which ensures the needs of all parties are met. “Insurers want happy customers,” says James, conscious of the potential reputational impact on brands who wash their hands of claimants. “We try and mitigate surprises by being as transparent as we can, with cost effective claims handling that is available to all, to LEI policyholders and to those without cover. It’s good for claimants and for insurers alike.”
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