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IBIS Preview: John Fearn on the coming era of ‘connected claims’

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By Jeff Sanford

Toronto, Ontario — March 16, 2016 — Spring is coming and so is the annual IBIS conference. Industry professionals will gather in Barcelona, Spain this May for the event. As the exclusive Canadian Media Partner for IBIS, Collision Repair magazine is bringing you previews of some of the speakers that will appear.

One of those slated to address the crowd is John Fearn of third party claims administrator Broadspire. In a recent communication with Collision Repair magazine, Fearn outlined some of the ideas he’ll hit on in his address. At a time when it seems every second auto industry story is about the rise of the automated vehicle, he will tap into his considerable experience to talk about the new and emerging era of “connected claims.”

The digital technologies developed in Silicon Valley over the last several decades are now converging in fascinating ways with the auto industry. Cars that are now as much computer as they are vehicle are being connected to the Internet and this is going to have a great effect on the way the insurance eco-system works. Broadspire is anticipating this new age and working to manage the change through the creation of something it calls its “Connected Claims Initiative,” which utilizes the “latest technology in the motor claims sector such as crash detection technology and telematics data to help improve the speed and quality of notification following an accident,” says Fearn.

Digital vehicles that are connected to the net offer vast new amounts of data that can be gathered. This data can be transferred in real-time from the car to the network. This new immediacy in the ability of companies to gather vehicle diagnostics is offering new levels of sophistication in terms of post-crash claims management and initial notification. According to Fearn, the collision repair and insurance industries are entering a new era of “connected claims” that will see insurers automatically notified of an incident through crash detection algorithms. By connecting the onboard diagnostics system to the Internet, any car in an accident can immediately and directly provide first notification of loss to an intake centre. An initial basic estimate of damage can, arguably, arrive at the insurance company before the emergency vehicles arrive at the scene. The entire claims process is going to speed up dramatically as a result of digital technologies.

“Arrangements for repair and updates of the repair process are driven through a technology solution that makes the process more easily managed and monitored through automation,” says Fearn. He went on to note that this new technology driven digital notification chain will allow the third party administrator managing claims on behalf of insurers, brokers, MGAs and corporate-directs to build a “best in class supply chain.” The industry will be able to consolidate partners and repair networks into a chain that leads to “greater control and economies of scale.”

“Connected claims assists with the management of the entire claims process including any third party liability,” he says, removing the possibility of failures along the claims chain and, at the end of the day, “lowering [the] claims spend and improving the customer journey.” Automating the claims process will bring costs down through the entire insurance chain. As business processes become more automated and economies of scale are introduced, Fearn says there is “scope for claims operating models to become self-funding through commercial arrangements within the supply chains eco-system.”

Fearn works and lives in the UK, which has a unique insurance system. Nevertheless there are similarities to the North American system. He hopes some of the current chaos and confusion that exists in the system can be worked out.

“The reason things are so complicated and convoluted in the UK is because of the non-fault claims approach where repairs and hire services are provided to the non-fault party on a credit basis, which increases the overall cost of repair and alternative vehicle hire,” he said. “There are numerous organisations that provide services at no cost, based on a referral model which generates the revenue. Ultimately somebody has to pay for it: the at fault insurer/party. This in turn affects consumers’ premiums.”

Broadspire’s Connected Claims Initiative is aimed at bringing control and consistency back to the first notification of loss.

“This is the most important part of the claims process, as it is how the claim is set on its journey and will impact on the level of service the consumer receives,” says Fearn. “With greater control comes greater opportunity to channel repair into the supply chain partners that provide the best service levels to the customer.”

Back in the mid-1990s when the digital revolution began to spread from Silicon Valley the many digital utopians of that era promised that the so-called “bricks and mortar” economy would be radically changed, and for the better. Now, years later, these technologies are finally realizing those promises. Welcome to the machine.

IBIS Global Summit tickets are available for £1,795 (approximately $3,607 CAD) and include full access to the Welcome Reception on May 23, access to the full day’s conference, including lunch and breaks on May 24, the International Dinner on the evening of May 24, as well as the final half day’s conference and delegates’ lunch on May 25.The price also includes two nights’ accommodation (May 23 and 24) at the conference venue, the Hilton Diagonal Mar. To confirm your place, email Nicola Keady at Nicola@ibisworldwide.com or visit ibisworldwide.com.

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