The return on investment (ROI) achieved from the baseline enablers of video conferencing technology such as business travel reduction, enhanced employee collaboration, and remote training are already established and well documented. Organizations have their choice of a multitude of vendor solutions within the unified communications market which can deliver services either on-premises, hosted (VCaaS), or as a hybrid configuration between the two. This offers the flexibility to meet client requirements for a balance between security, application accessibility and budget (capital vs. operational). Companies that have not yet realized this low hanging fruit are already behind the curve. They will continue to lose competitive edge as the technology becomes increasingly pervasive from any device, any time, in any location.
The trend across industry verticals to continuously gain efficiencies and reduce costs will serve as a catalyst for more creative utilization of video conferencing services. This continued growth within the video and unified communications and collaboration industry (recently estimated by Transparency Market Research to grow from 3.31 billion in 2013 to 6.40 billion by 2020) will be achieved in part through continued proliferation in those lagging organizations who have not yet adopted this fundamental capability. More importantly it will be driven as video communications become a natural enabler of streamlined business processes and workflows. This will help transition the historical perception of video conferencing as a disparate, cumbersome technology limited to specific use cases to one of an integral service simplifying workflows and business processes.
Financial services and insurance companies are now looking to leverage investments in video conferencing technology to optimize existing business practices such as claim handling, risk control mitigation and customer service. Let’s examine some use cases in the claim handling process where video conferencing is currently being tested for efficiency gains.
An in-person assessment by an adjuster or independent inspector at a loss site (auto, property) is often necessary if the claim is significant enough to facilitate an accurate estimate of the loss. Often, repeated visits to the claim site are required to collect additional data (photos, interviews with claimants) due to the complexity of the damage or an oversight on the account of the adjuster. This wastes valuable time field inspectors could be spending analyzing new claims and is ripe for the introduction of mobile video conferencing technology.
Assume a field adjuster is inspecting a flood claim at an insured’s home. If any critical information is missed in the report, a second visit will be required to gather further data. That visit can be eliminated with real-time video. Using a secure video conferencing application on a mobile device, the adjuster can quickly contact an expert in the office, show in real-time the damage and work collaboratively to eliminate an additional inspection. All the necessary photos could then be gathered by the field adjuster or by the claim professional in the office at the first visit. The session could also be recorded and automatically attached to the claim file for future reference. This is a basic application of enabling field workers with mobile video technology that can immediately impact claim handling response time and accuracy.
Virtual customer service capabilities will also have implications for claim handling. Amazon’s Mayday service released in September of 2013 proved the first significant entry into the market. Most recently Barclay’s announced it would provide access to banking professionals via video from customers’ homes. We are now at the forefront of a growing necessity for video technology in virtual customer services. There will be a rapid increase in consumer demand for this kind of service and there are significant financial implications for related insurance workflows. Integration of video communications with customer services will allow insurers to engage customers and business partners quickly and directly before intermediaries have the opportunity to contaminate or interfere with a claim.
Claim handlers in the contact center today often manage audio callers directly from the scene of an incident such as an auto accident. Information is gathered from the customer on the loss but there is no visual inspection from the provider at the time of the incident. The time-gap between an accident and the ensuing inspection allows for manipulation of the scene (intended or accidental) and therefore the potential for a discrepancy between the insured story, the party at fault and any involved third parties such as a towing company or auto shop.
Using video the insured could provide a live feed of the scene to a contact center claim professional. The insurer would then have a rare opportunity to make an assessment of the damage at the time of the loss, consult with the customer and take a visual record of what occurred to attach to the claim file, thereby reducing the potential for insurance fraud.
Another application which will allow insurers to gain efficiencies in claim handling is in remote video monitoring. For instance, claim professionals can monitor subcontractors hired to assess damage in areas not accessible to the adjuster such as roofing contractors. In this example, the insurer is at the mercy of a third party and its interpretation of the damage. Using video the claim professional could remotely monitor the site by initiating a video conference with the roof inspector, provide direction on what needs particular attention and request photos of key points. This reduces the potentially negative impact of a third party’s perception of a loss site.
Similarly, at the conclusion of a claim the insurer may need to verify that the damage has been appropriately repaired or the item replaced prior to releasing the “hold back”, the difference between the depreciated value of the damaged item and its current retail value once replaced. Using video conferencing the claim professional could conference with the insured or subcontractor to view the replacement or repairs prior to releasing the depreciated funds.
Engaging via video with field agents and customers at the time a claim event occurs shortens the response and resolution time of the claim process and therefore provides cost savings through time efficiency gains. The ability to virtually work alongside customers and business partners in the claims process can reduce the potential for evidence to be disturbed at a loss site and subsequently reduce costs associated with insurance fraud. Insurers are actively testing and developing these capabilities including integration to customer facing mobile and web applications. Analytical tools are also being developed to accurately quantify the gains of integrating this technology with these and many other use cases. The proliferation of video communication services within the Insurance industry will serve as a catalyst to enable new and enhance existing business processes and will also be a significant contributor to future growth of the video communications industry.