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Policyholders don’t really know if their insurance is any good until they encounter a loss. Though they buy a policy hoping they’ll never need it, if disaster strikes, the response they receive during their first notice of loss (FNOL) call is critical, both for their claim now and their future insurance needs.
They’ve just suffered a loss and they’re often stressed out and a simmering bundle of emotions. They want to have their call answered quickly, receive empathetic treatment, and have their claim processed professionally, without any hassle.
During the FNOL contact, you, as their insurer, have an opportunity to shine—or to have an epic fail. Also, FNOL starts the claims process. If critical information is missing, this puts a snag in claims processing. The claim goes on hold, awaiting the missing documentation. However, if the claims agent accurately collects all the needed information, then claim processing goes forward without delay.
A trend in the insurance industry, and an emerging best practice, is to outsource FNOL calls to call centers that specialize in providing first notice of loss service. These leading call centers have the tools and training to handle claim calls from all fifty states. These trained agents appropriately balance the needs of your company, as the insurer, with the policyholder.
Here are five key outcomes you can expect when outsourcing to a professional FNOL call center:
The key to begin an effective claims process is to obtain all the needed information, quickly and accurately—on the first phone call. Trained FNOL agents follow a specific script that adapts to the policy type and nature of the claim. FNOL call centers are experts at accomplishing this essential requirement. However, they strive to balance this need for efficiency with properly addressing the policyholders’ physical condition and emotional state.
In addition to quickly obtaining the right information, call center agents that handle FNOL calls receive training on how to empathize with the caller and the loss they’ve encountered. Though this is a routine event for insurance companies, it’s far from routine for the policyholder, who suffers from the events that caused them to make this phone call. Often distraught, they deserve kindness and understanding from the FNOL agent, not distant, detached professionalism. Knowledgeable agents skillfully balance the practical needs of the insurer with the physical and emotional needs of the insured.
Before getting information and offering assurances, the claims agent must verify the caller is safe. They could be in shock, and they’re possibly frantic. They’re thought process may not be logical, and they may struggle to communicate. Professional FNOL agents expect this and know how to properly deal with it. Only once they evaluate the situation and know the caller is okay and safe, then they proceed with documenting the needed information.
Beyond gathering the claim information you seek and offering the compassion your policyholder needs, FNOL call centers customize their services to meet the needs of their insurance company clients.
These leading call centers don’t push their clients into a one-size-fits-all box and hope it will meet their needs. Instead, these professional call centers tailor a program to meet your insurance company’s goals, objectives, and paradigms. They strive to make sure they configure a solution that meets your needs, not theirs.
The best FNOL call centers handle all types of policies. This includes automotive, property, general liability, workmen’s comp, and property claims. Those that specialize in one or two types of insurance claims can’t deliver a full-service solution.
This isn’t an issue if you sell only one type of insurance, but most likely you don’t. You offer an array of policies, so you can be a full-service provider to your policyholders. This means you need an outsource first notice of loss service provider that can handle all the types of policies you offer, both now and in the future. Just as you’re a full-service insurance provider, you want a full-service call center vendor.
Call centers schedule staff to meet the normal, expected amount of call traffic for each hour of each day, 24/7. This allows them to be efficient and offer a cost-effective service. But what happens when a catastrophic event occurs: a tornado, flood, earthquake, hurricane, or man-made disaster? Make sure your call center can scale up fast to take all your calls that come in.
Outsourcing your FNOL calls to a call center that provides first notice of loss service is a wise move and the smart choice. This saves you money, increases your effectiveness, and meets your policyholders’ expectations. Yet, not all call centers can provide these five key outcomes. Make sure yours is ready to handle your FNOL calls according to your specifications and expectations.
Richard L. Hutcherson is the director of operations for Answering Service One, a new kind of answering service that wants to become your number one resource to handle your communication needs. Contact Richard at 865-505-0456. Peter Lyle DeHaan is a freelance writer from Southwest Michigan. Check out Answering Service One to handle your first notice of loss (FNOL) calls.