The world of claims continues to grow in scale and sophistication as new technologies are brought to bear on this most crucial link in the insurance chain. The secret of success lies in scale, data and caring about the customer. Sedgwick Australia’s Paul Bloxsome provides a glimpse of the insight and foresight that is proving to be a recipe for growth.
Two years ago, Cunningham Lindsay was acquired by Sedgwick and since then the total headcount of the group has grown to 27,000.
One year ago Sedgwick chief executive officer of Australia Diego Ascani told Asia Insurance Review that the year ahead “is about expanding our services.” And that has certainly happened.
Few in the industry would challenge the strength of the new entity that manages around 4.4m claims globally per year. And technology is a major factor in making all of this possible, according to Sedgwick global specialty markets manager, Australia Paul Bloxsome.
“We see the insurance landscape changing dramatically,” said Mr Bloxsome. “New technology is a major factor - as is climate change, which is hitting us hard here in Australia with what happened over Christmas and early 2020. There have been large numbers of bushfire claims and flood claims - on top of our normal workload - which have kept us all very busy. But we’ve been able to link our colleagues with the latest technological solutions and engage colleagues from Sedgwick’s international network to keep on top of things.”
Being part of a global group clearly has advantages when Nat CAT piles on the pressure with unusually large numbers of claims in a short space of time.
“The world is going to need to develop more technology and better technology to cope in future,” said Mr Bloxsome. Thankfully this is an area that is well understood within Sedgwick. “We are very much an in-house technology developer, however value the potential external applications that are available in the market now and into the future,” he said.
“We are in the process of expanding our claims management system worldwide, including Australia and Asia, and the beauty of it is that it can grow and have additional modules added to it, for instance new developments from InsurTech can be incorporated at any time which will effectively speed up our rate of change globally.”
Continuous improvement is a goal that many global organisations set themselves, and Sedgwick is no different. “Global best practice is where we’re going with this in terms of what we do,” said Mr Bloxsome. “The idea is that it will shorten the whole claims handling time.
“We’re looking at having embedded software in insurer sites so that the clients can input their claim with their insurer and it just comes straight through to us electronically. By ensuring that we’ve got it within hours or even minutes, we can focus on providing help on-site far quicker and we know that that will have a knock-on effect in terms of reducing costs.”
Expanding the offering
The claims specialist also hopes to increase the range of services that it can offer to meet the market needs. “In terms of the diversity of products and services, we are looking to expand what we do in Australia,” said Mr Bloxsome. “In the push towards global best practice we are bringing a lot of the advanced global programmes to Australia. The most obvious examples centre around our international travel expertise where we are collaborating with our specialist teams from around the world to develop market leading solutions.”
The financial services industry is becoming used to making announcements about headcount reductions as technology takes over roles that were once the domain of in-house staff. Sedgwick is bucking the trend by continuing to grow.
“In Australia we employed nearly 200 new colleagues last year,” said Mr Bloxsome. “We’re close to 700 strong in Australia now.”
In line with many other leading brands in the insurance sector, attracting millennials and Gen Z has become something of a focus in an increasingly competitive labour market.
“There are moves afoot to get younger people interested and involved in working for us,” said Mr Bloxsome. “We’re looking at getting involved with universities to go and meet graduates at source, take graduates in as part of a programme for a period of time while they’re studying or straight after they’ve finished. We’ve taken on a talent acquisition manager and he’s responsible for all things of that nature.”
Equally close attention is being paid to the systems and processes that Sedgwick employs to ensure that new clients feel at home straight away – without any glitches or oversights.
“How we approach the on-boarding of new clients is also part of the best practice from around the globe,” said Mr Bloxsome. “We’ve put together a best practice on-boarding programme. So when we secure new clients, they know they will receive this best-in-class service. We have in place a whole process that we’ve built in conjunction with the US, Europe and Asia where all new clients are onboarded through the same regime.
“We’ve got everything detailed: What the system capabilities are; how it’s going to play out; what the timeframes are. That is kept as a record from day one, providing full transparency of our commitment to take care of their customers. As part of that, we are expanding our global claims management deals with insurers and corporates – and engaging more with our colleagues around the world as well,” he said.
Indeed this is one of the areas where the increase in staff headcount is most obvious. “The Sedgwick mantra is ‘caring counts’,” said Mr Bloxsome. “You can really feel it growing in the business. Some of the new job positions we have created are specific to do that. We have a customer care manager that joined us late last year. Throughout the bushfire crisis she was on-site spending time with people who had just lost their homes and we deemed needing special attention – having a coffee, having a chat, making sure they are OK.”
A look to the future
The next 12 months should see Sedgwick in Australia building on the wins from the last year as well as introducing some new initiatives and technologies.
“We are looking closely overseas at machine learning and AI and how we can build that into our claims service at the various stages, all of which will flow to the Australian market” said Mr Bloxsome.
“We’re also spending a lot of time with InsurTech and we have a host of ideas around how we can work more closely with them – both locally and globally. We have already provided some claims solutions to InsurTech and we’re hoping to work with a lot more in the future. Innovation is important for us. We’re always looking at ways to change and bring in new best practice.’’
“The complexity of data that is held by us is also important. We’re going to be collecting more and more data and we’re working out the best ways to use it to make ourselves better, not just in Australia but globally. If we can see there are global trends or local trends, then we can we can use all of that information to make us better and more efficient and ultimately benefit the industry long into the future,” Mr Bloxsome said. A