– June 9, 2010
Don’t limit what you can imagine by what you know. Look to others to help improve your claims department
In Trading Places: A Smart Way to Change Your Mind, Harvard Business Review contributor, Bill Taylor discusses the “power of a whole new mindset about innovation.” The article goes into what happened when two CEO’s switched companies for a day and the learning that came from the new perspectives they had. Bill Taylor noted that”
Leaders who are hungry for new ideas don’t just aspire to learn from the “best in class” in their narrowly defined field. They also aspire to learn from organizations outside their field as a way to shake things up and make real change. Strategies and practices that are routine in one market segment can be revolutionary when they migrate to another, especially when those ideas challenge the prevailing assumptions that have come to define so many market segments.
One of the main points Bill suggests is that there is no reason to gamble on “untested strategies and ideas” when there are existing strategies and ideas that work.
So what’s my point? Claims organizations need change to develop and become more efficient. The heads of claims departments can take a lesson from the CEO’s in Bill Taylor’s article and look to other industries for innovation. In addition, they can simply look internally to help themselves grow as well.
Switching hats internally to help develop your organization
Have claim disciplines switch roles for a day
Can a Property adjuster learn anything by handling a professional liability claim? How about a casualty claims professional reviewing a medical malpractice claim? Each line of business will look at losses differently, and it is those very differences that can create new learning and enhance skill levels.
For example, Medical Malpractice evaluations require a strong review of proximate cause, and while an element of the casualty claim, the focus tends to be different. Likewise, an important component in casualty is reviewing for fraud and subrogation opportunities. Now understandably there are few, if any truly fraudulent medical malpractice claims (people don’t submit to surgery just to file a lawsuit), damage exaggeration can be the same as in a Casualty claim. While not normally done in the Med-Mal arena, utilizing SIU to help mitigate the damage aspect of a Med-Mal claim is something that can be learned from the Casualty adjuster.
Spending a day wearing a different type of claim hat can help one learn a different perspective on the claims they are used to working on. Really – nothing bad can come of this one.
Send claims managers to another business unit
Do your claims managers truly understand the underwriting process? Can a claim handler speak to pricing models and actuarial analysis? Do your managers understand the process of how claim reserves are factored into financial statements?
To truly give managers a complete perspective of the company, it’s critical for them to have an entire understanding of the insurance process outside of claims. Have your claims managers spend a day with an underwriter to learn how a policy gets quoted, booked and bound in the system.
After switching hats, see where claims can add value to the underwriting process, or learn ways to enhance the customer experience.
Switching hats externally to grow your organization
Organizations in the hospitality arena tend to deal with their customers in a dramatically different ways than in other industries. Take a page from the Harvard Business Review article, Trading Places: A Smart Way to Change Your Mind, and switch places with an executive outside your industry to see how other companies manage customers or work motivate their employees. If that’s not possible then read about how other industries and companies, that have nothing to do with insurance or claims, handle different managerial or customer issues as a way to learn new approaches.
It’s amazing what can be learned from other companies. For example, Zappos, the online shoe manufacturer consistently makes the top companies to work list (number 15 on the 2010 Fortune’s Top 100 Companies to Work For). One of the reasons is their unique culture and process of ensuring they have selected the right employee for their culture by offering new hires money to leave. (see Bill Taylor’s article Why Zappos Pays New Employees to Quit–And You Should Too). They have an unorthodox way of managing employees and dealing with customers that is worth exploring even if you would not employ their methods. And frankly if you have ever toured their call center in Las Vegas, as I have, you will understand why you might not want to follow their lead exactly.
The point? There is a lot to learn out there, some of which may be a little unorthodox in the insurance and claims world, but is nonetheless is still worth exploring.