To quote a well-known American politician called Donald (no, not that one), “There are things we don’t know we don’t know.”
How right he was. This time last year, SX3 and its clients were packed together in a bar celebrating our 5-year anniversary. That seems a lifetime ago now. No one then could have predicted how 2020 was going to be, and even now, anyone attempting to predict the future does so with extreme caution or folly. One thing we have been able to rely upon is that the claims market continues to prove as interesting and innovative as ever. So, no predictions, but here are a few things I’ve seen going on.
No sooner had ‘partial return to office’ work patterns settled in, than they had to be reviewed to accommodate Lockdown 2. However, departmental agility is now the norm, so many claims organisations have taken this in their stride with teams reaching a happy equilibrium in their agile working regimes. Significant upsides are being realised – freeing up office space, improved flexibility for team members, and even improving delivery capacity now they aren’t restrained by office space.
Employees and employers alike have welcomed the opportunity to work more flexibly – with many organisations reporting an initial upsurge in productivity – but now some fatigue is setting in. The shift to remote working means that some of the traditional methods for creating motivation and engagement for employees are less effective when they work remotely. Working relationships also risk decaying over time without face to face and social time.
Much has already been written about the mental health risks felt through isolation. These key issues must be addressed if we are to capitalise on the remote working evolution underway in our industry. Management practices have been supported with remote working tools. Everyone is familiar with Zoom and Teams now, but we are also seeing the emergence of applications to engage remote workers on their wellbeing. At SX3, we have been trialling T-Cup, led by someone familiar to many in the Claims world – Edwyn van Rooyen, former CEO of Validus. Is that what long term exposure to credit hire claims does to you?
Business interruption claims have taken centre stage with polarised industry wordings and Supreme Court test cases. With the ABI estimating the cost of claims at £1.7bn, the outcome of the test cases could have a significant and long-term effect on clients’ perceptions of their insurers and brokers.
Whilst motor insurers felt the benefit of fewer vehicles on the road, insurers have noted an increase in older / dormant personal injury claims being resurrected. It’s also no coincidence that with significant job cuts and workers on furlough, insurers have seen an increase in fraudulent and exaggerated claims. Is social inflation, a phenomenon seen largely so far only in the US, something that will start to feature here in the UK?
We have seen more take up of remote medical examinations and rehabilitation for whiplash injuries, and in credit hire, battles are emerging around hire periods extending to allow for cleaning and quarantining of returned cars.
One silver lining has been the increased adoption of digital claims services this year. Insurers and claimant organisations are both seeing benefits, which is perfect timing for Minster Law’s launch of INK, their new digital claims portal. All they need now is clarity on when the Civil Liability Act will come into force!
There have been casualties in the claims supply chain with Nationwide Accident Repair Centres calling in the administrators. Redde Northgate has taken on the bulk of the sites and it was good to see Steve Thompson of Connected Solutions reaching out to his ex-colleagues to offer any help he could.
Sadly, but not surprisingly, we have seen an increase in the number of experienced claims managers having to look for a new job. The market’s loss however is our gain, with 14 new senior professionals joining our Associate network.
We have also added 2 underwriting management consultants to the team, to meet client demand for a broader range of process reviews.
SX3 – our sixth year in business
SX3 as a business experienced double-digit growth despite the impact of various lockdown measures. We were already working remotely to some extent pre-March, and now it is simply the default method. Audits, process reviews, change programmes have all transitioned smoothly to remote working.
After all, clients still need support getting on with their business, and we have been engaged across a range of claims matters such as breakdown cover claims, C-19 BI claims management, the opportunities and pitfalls of indemnity spend guarantees within TPA contracts, supplier tenders, headhunting, leakage control and reserving practices.
In the last few months, we have launched 3 new services, a Delegated Claims Handling Authority review, a Business Continuity plan review, and SX3 Associate, Phil Rawlings, well known to those of you in the motor claims arena is leading our new credit hire protocol review service.
Next year we will continue to grow our core businesses, Audit, Consultancy and Resourcing for both General Insurance and London Market needs.
One thing that I can predict with some certainly (a ‘known known’, to quote Donald again), is that we continue to work to the needs of our clients – which in one case even meant performing an audit sitting in their otherwise empty office!