A helping hand at the accident scene can build customer loyalty

According to Jeff Blecher, senior vice-president of strategy for Agero, insurers must start focussing on how to achieve a holistic accident management approach using the latest connected car technologies such as automatic crash notification (ACN) and UBI to stay ahead in an increasingly competitive environment.

Speaking exclusively to TU-Automotive, Blecher explained the customer service advantages of UBI.

He said: “Naturally, for the consumer, you can provide driver coaching, reduce the number of accidents but when those accidents do happen, you can also start using the same technologies on the claims side with automatics notification of the event, automatic first notice of loss.

“In the same way, the customer can get a service provider that can get on the phone to help them out, get the injury response they need, whether its ENS [emergency notification system] personnel or fire or medical assistance.

“It could be simply advice like, ‘what do we do now’ after an accident, what type of questions they should be asking the third party, whether they should be taking pictures. When you’re at the scene of an accident you’re often stressed and they are concerned about what to do so to have a personalised concierge service to help out and coach can provide a lot of value to the consumer and creates a great touch-point for the insurance company.”

While this is technology is of a huge benefit to the customer, the insurer also reaps benefits from tis use, said Blecher.

He added: “At the moment, insurers don’t have great touch-points with their consumers because it only happens when those consumers are paying their bills or filing a claim and neither of those things are good events. So any touch-point you can provide as an insurer that portrays empathy and connection to the insured is going to increase retention rates which are so critical today where insurance companies are having to be so competitive with each other.”

And Blecher says using accident management technology can allow smaller insurance companies to play in the same ballpark as the major operators such as OnStar.

He explained: “You have to leverage technology to bring down the cost of capital investment needed to provide this level of personal service. OnStar, for example, takes a capital intensive approach with hardware in the vehicle, wireless carrier agreement to transmit the information, then you have the call centres and the service that can be provided.

“The reality with today’s technology you can really reduce that capital investment. We believe that for this to go mass market you have to use the mobile device and also that there is a pathway to making a mobile-based automatic crash notification technology work. Once you can do that you eliminate all the hardware costs and you don’t have to worry about the wireless carrier costs because that’s part of the consumer’s data plan.

“Naturally, you still have the agent costs but remember, if the insurer is doing this right and using accident scene management services, they already have deals with contact centres with agents to handle these types of events.”

Blecher said there are considerable savings insurers can make during a claim by using accident management technology.

He explained: “Once we get that call we can get a tow-truck out to the scene of the accident and capture that vehicle. If we can do that, we can save the insurance company hundreds of dollars on that claim in municipal tow costs, storage costs, secondary tow costs and paperwork.

“From the consumer’s viewpoint, we can also reduce the time when they can get their vehicle back. This is known as the keys-to-keys time, the time from when they have their accident to when they get the keys back in their hands. At the moment in the US the keys-to-keys time is about two weeks but with our services, when we can get our hands on that vehicle at the scene of the accident we can reduce that time to between five and eight days.

“From a strategic perspective, it effectively pays for itself when you have these services active at that accident scene because it saves you so much money during the claims process.”

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