Trust is arguably the valuable commodity that insurers must trade on – being inherent in a product that is essentially a promise. The event of a customer claim is, for traditional cover, the singular opportunity to demonstrate value and build that trust relationship. However, some pet insurers have recently failed to capitalize on this opportunity, instead jeopardizing perceptions of the industry, according to GlobalData Financial Services.
With many owners seeing their pets as a member of the family, pet insurance should provide policy holders with peace of mind, at a potentially stressful time. However, for a number of individuals this has not been the case, with in excess of 1,500 claims specifically relating to pet insurers made to the Financial Ombudsman in 2016/17. This was a 38% increase on the previous year.
In one case a consumer filed a complaint against their insurer who refused to pay out for surgery and physiotherapy to fix a cruciate ligament problem. The insurer had rejected the claim after using the dog’s medical records to determine it was overweight. Had this been declared, the insurer would have excluded cover for hip, leg, and shoulder disorders. The ombudsman ruled the insurer had acted unfairly and that the claim by the policy holder should be upheld.
Cases like this cause damage to an industry struggling to improve its reputation. Several surveys and investigations into perceptions of the industry paint an unflattering picture, with Accenture’s survey in 2015 finding that only 20% of customers trust insurance providers. The rough truth for the industry is that when things go well, there is little fanfare. But when less positive – and less well-managed from a PR perspective – cases arise, it will never fail to tarnish the industry. The result is a wound to the core of that peace of mind and faith that insurance is designed to offer.
At a time when the GDPR will lead to only those most trusted of brands being selected by customers for the sharing of data – and with the digital transformation of the industry bringing the threat of new, untarred, players – better reputation management is needed, along with improved communication and clarity with customers to ensure far fewer damaging misunderstandings.
Understandably, insurers must look after their bottom lines and protect against cases of fraudulent claims; however, in far less clear-cut cases there is a duty to do the upmost to treat customers fairly. This is particularly so in markets such as pet insurance, where there is often greater emotional distress involved in the claims process. Insurers need to become more customer-centric, not only in order to grow their customer bases but merely to retain them.
For more insight and data, visit the GlobalData Report Store (https://www.globaldata.com/store/) – Verdict is part of GlobalData Plc.
See the full GlobalData report on fostering trust in insurance by clicking on the link below: