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Jan 2021

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The future of third-party administration in Asia

Source: Asia Insurance Review | Dec 2020

Nicki Dunn

Third-party administration is not a new concept in the Asian market but the growth in opportunity and potential has been rapid as Asia represents an ideal hub to provide outsourced claims management services not just in Asia but also for the rest of the world, says Sedgwick’s Ms Nicki Dunn.
 
 
As a claims management company, with a strong tradition in loss adjusting, Sedgwick is looking to the future of claims and assessing new ways of working in both traditional and non-traditional lines of business.
 
As a company with a diversified approach to claims and over 50 years of experience providing outsourced claims solutions across our businesses in the US and Europe, we are adapting and using the knowledge of our colleagues globally to drive change in our own market.
 
A traditional third-party administration (TPA) service is a desk-based model. As a business we historically provided this for workers compensation, travel and medical claims from Hong Kong and Singapore. Managing all services locally in each country meant fewer economies of scale and, as a result, higher costs for our clients. We knew that a different, more centralised approach would be far more beneficial. 
 
Expanding expertise
In October 2019 Sedgwick acquired Maphilindo International. With its employees working on traditional TPA desktop claims in areas such as property, travel and liability, it was a move that complemented the ongoing work within Sedgwick in Asia. By expanding the range of expertise of our claims handlers with a key acquisition, we began to change how we approached TPA in our market.
 
Centralised capability
The impact of the pandemic has accelerated change. Clients, claimants and colleagues have been affected by lockdowns, circuit-breakers, supply chain disruption and wholesale shifts in working practice.
 
The need to provide 24-hour support, and the ability to offer pan-regional solutions to offset the working restrictions imposed across each of our countries at different times during the pandemic became critical. The way forward was to create a centralised hub – an ambition we were working towards but which we expedited as a reaction to the circumstances we all found ourselves in.
 
We launched our new Asia third-party administration centre (ATC) in Kuala Lumpur in October 2020 to manage claims for multiple clients both locally and globally. Currently the ATC services our Hong Kong, Malaysian, Singapore and Thailand clients, incorporating a 24-hour call centre that offers comprehensive first notice of loss and end-to-end claims management, and we are looking to expand.
 
Our capability now covers all major insurance lines including, property (commercial and residential), liability, marine, motor, employee benefits, travel, medical, gadget and cyber.
 
Our colleagues have multiple language capabilities including English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Indonesia and Malay Bahasa and Tamil.
 
Whilst our Hong Kong and Singapore teams continue to manage workers compensation claims they now also benefit from the administrative support of our Malaysian team.
 
Technology is key
Sedgwick is a leading global provider of technology-enabled risk, benefits and integrated business solutions, so the next logical step to transform the TPA offering was to utilise the technology that had been developed within our group.
 
As part of an ongoing global roll-out, our new in-house claims operating system, Darwin went live in Asia. The system was configured by our own developers to ensure it met our customers’ needs, particularly around reporting by capturing data across each of the 4,640 fields contained within it.
 
Eagerly anticipated by our clients ahead of its launch in January 2021 is the revolutionary option of running tailored claims experience reports in real time, via their own individual user access.
 
Whilst a central approach is desirable, we also know that localisation is necessary. In Singapore, the Darwin system has been specifically developed to capture the new Ministry of Manpower reporting requirements for WICA claims which come into effect on 1 January 2021. This includes an end-to-end claims management solution, as well as secure daily transfer of data.
 
Our experience showed that there was also a strong desire to improve the claims experience for our clients’ claimants. Our MiClaim tool now allows claimants to lodge claims electronically and attach any supporting documents directly to the claim file - meaning faster resolution and improved client satisfaction scores.
 
Further, real-time updates are provided throughout, keeping claimants in the picture every step of the way using our revolutionary viaOne tool. Brokers and insurers can also access this data using their logins, meaning contactless updates are available 24/7.
 
Darwin also holds all individual contract and key performance indicator information within the system, allowing more accurate measures of our performance against agreed service standards. This is critical for reporting on the management of all our portfolios.
 
Finally, as a global operating system, Darwin is providing additional opportunity to work closely with our US, UK, Australian and New Zealand colleagues to provide more seamless solutions for clients whose needs sit across international boundaries.
 
COVID-19
The pandemic has changed everyone’s way of working and has had an unprecedented impact on our industry. For us it provided an opportunity to adapt our TPA processes significantly.
 
For insurers and clients who were outsourcing prior to the pandemic, they were fortunate not to be carrying additional costs - particularly for travel claims - where globally, volumes plummeted. Those who insourced either maintained staff costs or needed to make tough decisions quickly. And whilst we are now moving to talk of global vaccines, there will still be long-tail economic and behavioural impacts to consider long into the future.
 
In the short term we are seeing underwriting premiums and loss ratio shifts– and as a result, enquiries around our ability to assist as a TPA are increasing as potential clients seek to diversify their risk and outsource.
 
Whilst we certainly didn’t anticipate a pandemic, our agility, flexibility and commitment to innovate constantly have certainly helped reshape our plans for Asia-wide expansion.
 
Whether it be today or in the future, we remain committed to providing real, innovative solutions that care for your customers when they need us most. 
 
Don’t hesitate to contact me or your local office for all your TPA needs. A 
 
Ms Nicki Dunn - head of TPA, Asia.
 

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