PANDEMIC

How insurance sector can navigate through Covid-19

Claims management staffs have had their jobs cut out for them in the face of the pandemic.

In Summary

• Insurance firms need to ensure they collect all pertinent client information at the on boarding stage and keep updating it regularly 

• Claims management staffs have had their jobs cut out for them in the face of the pandemic.

An Insurance Regulatory Authority(IRA) stand at a conference in Nairobi.
An Insurance Regulatory Authority(IRA) stand at a conference in Nairobi.
Image: COURTESY

Insurance is all about claims settlement. If a policyholder thought for a moment that they would never be able to receive settlement when an insured event happened, then they would never opt to take up an insurance cover.

The claims management process has never been thrown into test and limelight like it has been in the past couple of months since the Covid-19 situation started in November 2019 and hit Kenya in March

The entire claims system has been tested and has had to undergo major changes in its general processes, documentation, modes of communication, and payment.

Most insurance firms have had to re-evaluate their processes because the status quo was not going to be able to deliver their objectives.

You see, with social distancing, curfews and lockdowns, most people, including professionals in the claims process, stayed at home and avoided physical meetings. Most government offices where some of the claims information is collected were either closed for a while or limited the number of services offered.

This then meant that insurers had to rethink of other ways to collect this information. People were not travelling and even physical documents were being viewed with suspicion. Most companies bought microwave-like gadgets to sterilise documents although, for the most part, they preferred to receive soft copies. This was unacceptable prior to the Covid-19 outbreak.

In place of the old fashion way or rather mode of payment, most if not all adopted online payments that are not only cheaper for the companies but also convenient for their clients.

This to some was an impossibility before March. Use of WhatsApp, SMS, email, telephone and other social media platforms, as opposed to visiting company offices, has become the norm.

It is a fact that insurance firms are the targets of fraudulent transactions/ attacks by those who think it is a victimless crime. This is the major reason most insurance firms have been paranoid and have held on to archaic ways of establishing the legitimacy of claims.

This scourge has taught us that it is possible to pay only legitimate claims while creating convenience for our customers.

Claims turnaround times drastically improve when only necessary documents are requested, and a number of communication lines used and with modern modes of payment.

Many households have been affected — some have lost jobs/businesses or taken home half-pay, contracted the disease and died or recovered, deprived of social support, which we are used to as Kenyans.

Therefore, when one has an insurance cover, they look for peace of mind, to receive a part payment, full maturity, a loan on policies with this kind of provision and settlement on Critical illness, disability and death. This should be done in the shortest time period.

Insurance firms need to ensure they collect all pertinent client information at the on boarding stage and keep updating it regularly because this will make it easier and faster and convenient for clients at the point of payment.

Claims management staffs have had their jobs cut out for them in the face of the pandemic. They have played the teacher, counsellor, the guide just to ensure clients know where to get the required documents, lay customer fear and anxiety and worry at bay, and to comfort the bereaved and so on.

To all claims comrades who have been going beyond what duty calls for, to all you who look for solutions and make clients happy, I salute you!

The writer is Secretary, Insurance Institute of Kenya