This is one of a set of seven interconnected themes or forces that are expected to drive the traditional claims function into a new future of customer-centric, digitally-enabled, value-driven service and efficiency.

It wasn’t long ago that we occupied a world where change at the enterprise level was typically delivered via protracted multi-year programs. Suddenly, the pandemic arrived to rewrite — worldwide and overnight — every industry’s traditional workforce needs, rules and configurations.

Claims functions were no exception amid the disruption and the race to transform and optimize new ways of working continues. Insurers are increasingly recognizing the opportunity to rethink their workforces for the future and dramatically advance their skills, productivity, efficiency, service and operational excellence.

The innovation challenge is unprecedented as insurers look for the first time to manage increasingly borderless virtual environments and teams in ways that ensure productivity, collaboration, employee welfare, secure offsite settings and more. Many claims organizations remain reliant on traditional claims-management approaches involving centralized, manual tasks and paper-based processes. But the future has arrived and with it the realization that modern approaches featuring new work models, technology and skills have become indispensable to driving necessary progress and competitiveness.

Modern skills for a new era of opportunities

Talented workers in today’s job market are increasingly looking to join modern organizations whose systems, cultures and values align to their own expectations, beliefs and career goals. Being seen as an innovative ‘employer of choice’ will help to define success for insurers and their evolving claims teams. Achieving this alignment is becoming fundamental to attracting and retaining talent and critical new skills.

Within the next five to 10 years, many claims functions are likely to digitize and automate, enabling some claims to be reported and settled with no human intervention. As the claims workforce evolves, the typical claims function will therefore see both a significant reduction in headcount and the acquisition of new technical skills that will be accompanied by higher costs. The skills required for the future claims function will form three broad categories:

1. Emotional intelligence: Effectively managing clients’ distress and enhancing their claims experience and satisfaction will be key. This skill among the workforce will become more important as many of the less complex claims handling tasks become automated. Many claims functions already have skilled client teams in place, but the future is about making the claims journey far more personal, transparent and predictable. The quality of the future claims experience is likely to have a significant impact on renewal, retention and growth.

2. Technical claims handling: While less-complicated claims will become automated to improve the client experience and efficiency, complex and high-value claims will still require specialized human investigation and evaluation skills. Claims organizations will need to effectively align the capabilities of their people with the power of today’s transformational technologies. Employees will need to be appropriately trained and equipped with the specific skills required to handle complex technical claims in new ways amid digital transformation.

3. Technology and data analysts: These disciplines will need to experience the greatest growth — with the addition of data scientists, business analysts and software engineers — in order for the claims function to reach a future state in which lower-complexity claims are digitized and automated. Interpreting claims data to continually develop and refine automated processes will be crucial and that will require experienced, knowledgeable claims handlers and technical professionals. As automation emerges, demand for such human skills will increase and acquiring them will become more challenging.

Local challenges, global solutions

The talent, expertise and services needed to compete and succeed in today’s remote environment can increasingly be sourced regionally, nationally, even globally, positioning businesses to significantly expand their talent pool in an era characterized by ongoing talent wars in practically every sector. We expect borderless operations to gain prominence, particularly among multinational insurers, with newly agile workforces flexing and rotating to match demand.

At the same time, not all claims-related roles can be carried out virtually, for example more-complex loss adjusting or property repairs involving third-party suppliers. On this front, claims teams will pursue increasingly connected and collaborative relationships with their service providers to enhance operational efficiency and the client claims journey. We can also expect to see increased reliance on gig-economy workers and local resources that offer flexibility, quick service and an enhanced client experience.

The best and brightest seek modern workplace cultures

Culture has become a key driver in elevating talent recruitment and retention, claims performance, employee engagement and morale, and client satisfaction. Embedding and fostering a collaborative, engaging and nurturing workplace culture of continuous improvement and problem solving has become crucial but this is not what we see in many claims organizations today.

Today’s modern insurers and claims functions are embedding innovative programs that continually review and align their culture with evolving expectations, values and ethical standards. As an example, many organizations are now taking an active role in shaping and contributing to environmental and sustainability targets and strategies in order to align with today’s employee and public values and ethics. In addition, recruitment initiatives that include a focus on increased diversity are adding value and should be part of any strategy today as claims organizations move forward.

Personal development featuring regular feedback and tailored growth, within a values-based culture, is indispensable and must continue to evolve in order to maintain productivity and the employee experience.

Don’t let agile competitors leave you behind

Businesses today are asking the same question in their quest to modernize and succeed in the digital age: ‘Where do we find the best software engineers, data analysts and data scientists?’

As many are discovering, you are most likely to find them working for leading tech giants and start-ups. Why? Simply put, these modern organizations boast leading edge innovation and progressive, flexible, creative cultures.

This article is featured in the Claims Transformation article series.

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Claims organizations that adopt similar approaches have the potential to enjoy significant advantages in attracting top talent and improving productivity and service for the digital age. Future-focused insurers will enhance or develop, their claims-predictions capabilities, analytics-based decision making and personalized client services, for example. Make no mistake — claims organizations that embrace traditional processes and workplace models risk being left behind by nimbler, bolder, digitally-enabled competitors.

Creating the claims workforce of the future promises exciting opportunities and the potential for players to unlock new heights of competitive advantage. But it also requires the right mix of careful thought, strategic planning and bold ambition.