Making claims globally consistent and locally responsive

The promise to pay claims is what risk managers are buying when they take out an insurance policy. Massimiliano Malinverno, head of global programmes – claims at AXA XL, explains how managing claims within a global programme can provide risk managers with a greater degree of oversight, control and authority. And, he says, a coherent, swift and proactive approach from insurers and clear and frequent communication between risk manager, broker and insurer can make the claims process much more efficient.

What are the claims management benefits of having a global programme?
Collaboration between company headquarters and local stakeholders is key to managing claims that take place outside of a company’s home country. And managing claims within the global programme structure can give the corporate risk manager an enhanced degree of control over the way those claims are managed.

For example, the risk manager can decide whether a particular claim needs to be resolved quickly or if a more considered approach is more appropriate. The risk manager can also make decisions such as whether increased costs of working are justified to restart production at a facility as soon as possible.

Whether claims payouts are made to the local subsidiary or corporate centre, the risk manager has a great degree of authority over how, when and where the claims payments received are used. For example, he or she could stipulate that a portion of the funds be directed to specific loss prevention measures.

Just as a global insurance programme gives the corporate risk manager oversight of exposures around the world, it also gives him or her oversight and greater control, from a client’s perspective, over how claims are settled wherever they happen.

What do risk managers expect from insurers of global programmes when managing claims?
Lead insurers of global programmes strive to be globally consistent and locally responsive. Risk managers should – and do – expect the same level of claims management service and support wherever in the world that claim takes place.

When a claim occurs, open and effective communications between the client, broker, lead insurer and other key stakeholders is essential. When a claim is triggered in a global programme, the lead insurer’s claims handler must immediately strike up communication with local experts and maintain regular dialogue with them throughout the claims process.

Claims need to be settled in accordance with local regulatory requirements and through people authorised to make that settlement. This is where nurturing relationships with experts on the ground can be of tremendous benefit, as they can help to navigate local legal and regulatory systems and ensure that local customs and market practices are respected, while also meeting our clients’ expectations that claims management will be of a consistent standard, wherever a claim may occur. As our ‘eyes and ears’ on the ground, these experts inform us of developments that might have an impact on a country’s risk landscape and commercial environment – and how this might affect our clients.

In order to ensure that clients’ expectations are met, we seek to make claims commitments part of the initial discussion when an international insurance programme is being designed.

How do international insurers seek to ensure consistency of claims management around the world?
An important part of ensuring that claims management is of a consistently high standard wherever our clients have operations, is the exchange of lessons learned when a claim takes place. This is why we frequently share best practices and new approaches with colleagues and partners. It’s also really important to share insights internally about our clients’ risk management philosophies and strategic and operations objectives; that way we can help to ensure that their claims management expectations are consistently met wherever a claim occurs.

Lead insurers of global programmes devote a great deal of time and effort to strengthening relationships with partners and colleagues around the world, in order to ensure that collaboration happens.

We operate through local offices, network partners and regional hubs, with local experts in the appropriate timezone, to facilitate claims management. This helps to ensure that the process of managing a claim happens as swiftly and efficiently as possible wherever it occurs.

Where a network partner is issuing the policy on our behalf, we work closely with them through our regional hubs. These are staffed by experienced claims managers in the same timezone and with local language capabilities, to ensure that our partners understand the client’s needs and agreed protocols for handling claims. They are also able to ensure that claims information flows back to the master client in an efficient and accurate way.

Insurers also should offer clients a global claims system to allow them access to their claims and data, as well as gain real-time updates on their exposures and all the relevant steps in the claims lifecycle.

While consistency is key, it is important to remember that claims management is not ‘one size fits all’. Our claims managers work to understand our clients’ businesses, goals and strategy, in order to be able to ensure their needs are met, and liaise with local experts if a claim occurs.

Contributed by Massimiliano Malinverno, head of global programmes – claims at AXA XL