Guest Blog: Q&A with Jon Cawley, NFU Mutual
With Jon Cawley, Head of Claims, NFU Mutual
1) What current industry trends are dominating your sector right now?
There has certainly been a development in the insurance space’s use of digital technology. We must embrace this as it is shaping the future of how we treat customers and how claims are managed. This development has had an impact on the industry’s financial performance, competitive pricing and premiums for customers, whilst it has paved the way for more players in the market.
Companies are using technology to differentiate their business models, for example it has given them the opportunity to implement automation in place of human interaction. It is still early days, but we have seen an enormous shift with the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) for assessing motor repairs and medical reports, with advances now making progress in the property space. I see this developing even further with visual technology even being using to quantify claims cost in the future.
However, it must remain front of mind for companies in the property claims sector that no one size fits all when implementing new technologies into their business models. We must remain conscious and be pragmatic that not all approaches will work for every customer segment, and we cannot lose the customer-first mentality within the claims journey.
2) Are there any industry issues which are currently affecting your business sector? If yes, please expand on how you are dealing with this?
- Brexit continues to challenge our industry. It is noticeably reducing commercial customers’ appetites to invest and is affecting the property market as a whole. Meanwhile sourcing components and materials from overseas’ partners has continued to concern many companies. Clarity from the government on Brexit will help to guide a solution to these uncertainties.
- Workforce resource is another subject that needs closer attention. The expertise required within the different areas of the property claims supply chain is changing. More digital and IT-savvy individuals are required and the talent pool we can attract goes beyond the insurance industry. The industry has unfortunately suffered from a lack of investment in talent in previous years, and we must now focus on how to attract more millennials. Here at NFU Mutual, we have seen apprentice schemes working in our favour. People are willing to work hard and want to drive their careers forward. They have the energy to learn and this has been a real eye opener on how the industry can embrace millennials. With bespoke training programmes and opportunities to grow within the business, we are demonstrating the value of the investment.
- Notably we have seen an increase in escape of water claims. The industry’s approach to resolving this must revolve around better managing building repair networks to avoid any fragmentation. Meanwhile, managing costs could arguably become easier by shortening supply chains.
- Lastly, there is a challenge with the construction standards of resilient materials. Whilst we have seen a positive shift in the development of more building resilience opportunities, there still needs to be more investment in the research of resilience, and to control the associated costs of the materials.
3) How does your business engage in continuously maintaining industry standards and exceptional customer service?
At NFU Mutual we utilise a spectrum of market data to benchmark against our peers. The customer is the core of our business, and our focus is to continue developing products to suit their needs. We are proud to have a 95.6% customer retention rate. This is firstly driven by our people. They engage in continual development and training to understand customer behaviour. They have a genuine desire to look after our customers and their changing needs, and they take the time to get to know them. The culture and philosophy of this approach is reinforced internally every day. Secondly, we pride ourselves on giving customers a choice. We make them feel like they are engaged in the claims process, and that their preferences matter. Empowering them is fundamental and they appreciate this level of interaction.
4) What changes or developments do you predict in your sector in the next 5 years?
More of an adoption to insurtech – especially in relation to customer interaction, process automation and payments. There will likely be more of an investment in this across the market. More companies in the insurance sector are likely to innovate their business systems and equipment to optimise customer experiences. Businesses must remain agile and continue developing well-rounded employee skill sets. They should ask, ‘Have we invested enough? Are we hiring in the right spaces?’ This way there is the opportunity to create service offerings, tailored to the customer.
5) How does/can your industry sector add further value for the consumer?
I think we all need to better articulate the value we already add for customers, whilst continuing to market the benefits of the add-on services we offer to customers. We need to demonstrate to customers that they get what they pay for – higher premiums should have a service to match.
We can further educate customers on loss prevention and resilience. This needs to take place prior to a claim and showcase the benefits of better preparation against floods. We can better support flood-prone customers and prove that we here for them before and after an incident.
6) Do you have any other comments or general observations to make regarding the claims sector?
The agility of the market is changing, and the industry needs to be co-ordinated and work in collaboration to manage this. The weather in the last five years has been arguably benign, and as far as cycles go it feels that in 3-4 years’ time, we could be braced with deep freezes and stronger storms. Are we proactively geared for this? We are good at responding to surge events collaboratively, but we need to keep up the momentum of these relationships so that when these events happen, we are better prepared for extensive periods. We cannot give up hope, instead we must work as an industry to support communities and earn credit points with the general public.
About Jon Cawley
As Head of Claims at NFU Mutual, Jon is accountable for setting claims strategy, the customer experience, technical control and strategic claims leadership to deliver award winning service to the Groups diverse customer portfolio.
Previous roles include:
- Head of Claims – Towergate Insurance
- UK Head of Personal Lines Claims & UK Motor Claims Director – Zurich Insurance
- UK Property Claims Director – Zurich Insurance
Additional positions held include member of the Post Magazine Claims Club advisory Panel and previously BIBA Claims Board member. With a passion for investing in people, Jon has also instigated the development of training programs which have achieved CII accreditation.