What’s So Special About You?

Picture of a typewriter

Working with the claims departments of insurers, TPAs and incident managers – as well as the multitude of vendors seeking to sell their products and services to these people gives me a great perspective on the thorny subject of ‘competitive advantage’.

Every vendor will tell you that they are the best at what they do, whilst the claims department will demand a range of competitive propositions from their suppliers which are intended to convey some sort of advantage over other insurers.

Occasionally, you do see a stunning proposition in the supplier marketplace that is a clear winner. The recent wave of independent insurtech developments has seen a very welcome growth in new ideas and applications. However, rare is the claims department with a firm grip on how they want to position themselves – other than, of course, the all-pervading demand to reduce indemnity and operational expenses.

But, despite some of the great innovations that have been happening on the tech front, vendors still find it especially hard to differentiate themselves from their immediate competitors.

Claims departments are also not that great at finding the golden nuggets that they’re looking for. In the former case, it is often a failure to invest time, money and research into designing and implementing the compelling proposition needed, whilst insurers and their claims departments are too often bound by corporate culture, process and internal politics to have the freedom necessary to experiment and challenge the norms.

It’s All About the Story

For vendors, having a great product or service (if you have one) is rarely enough to stand out from the crowd. It seems to me that part of the secret involves the ability to tell a convincing story; not just the operational stuff in terms of who you are and what you do, but also the skills to draw the buyer in on what you are trying to achieve.

Strong examples of this in the motor market might be the progress made by companies such as Tractable and RightIndem, who have taken us on a journey around how the claims market could change for the better. They have been ultra-consistent in their messaging and positioning about this over many years.

For insurers and their claims departments, the task is made a little more difficult in that their customers have little option but to work with them. There are very limited options for reporting your claim to anyone other than your insurer (or their agent), and so there is a captive market mentality. The key driver is cost management with a nod towards customer service and, in truth, there is very little else to differentiate the positioning of a typical insurer.

Even when there’s real competition to manage a claim (a potential credit hire/personal injury situation, for example), insurers are very focused on the speed with which they can find the customer, rather than the offer being made. In other words, everyone looks pretty much the same from the consumer perspective, and it is simply a matter of who gets there first!

Of course, there are exceptions. In the US, Lemonade has made a great effort at storytelling, and they’ve seen huge success in that respect. In the UK, we can see High Net Worth companies positioning themselves as the service-driven claims operation that costs money – but is worth it in the end!

So, my message is simple.

There’s a compelling need to be able to tell an interesting, engaging
and meaningful story about who you are and where you are going. Without this, you are just another vendor or claims department.


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