6R Retail

Insurance Dis-trust makes customers feel like criminals

- Posted: June 20th, 2017

Everyone cheats a little bit, says behavioural economist Dan Ariely. Insurance companies know this too, so they have processes in place to assess the validity of claims. From a business perspective, I get this, it’s a very sensible move and one that hopefully weeds out fraudulent claims. My recent experience on the customer side of lodging an insurance claim has left me wanting to take a broom to insurance processes and really clean the place out!

At the Future Lab briefing earlier in the year, one of the key points made was around how institutional trust is at a historic low and when reflecting on my own experience I can see why customers are feeling distrust when it comes to institutions like banks and insurance companies (who have traditionally been selling us trust all along).

It took me some time, to lodge my claim because every time I tried I got a bit upset. My bag, which I refer to as ‘my office’ was stolen from my home whilst I was asleep in the next room. A harder blow than it sounds. People who travel will get this, it’s the way you pack the bag, it’s what’s in the bag and the fact that I know it has teabags and tampons and lip balm and a toothbrush. It also has a jewellery pouch, with some earrings in it, spare pens, a pocket for all the cords and connectors. My laptop fits in there and my keys have a home. Or they did have.  The keys to my home and car were both in the bag, so had to be changed.

And now comes the insurance game…

The insurance company that have been happy to take my money every month for the last 19 years are limbering up to make this as difficult and dehumanising a process as possible.

Yes, there’s history.

The one and only time we have needed home and contents insurance was a fight. Most excellent husband took one for the team and dealt with the insurance people whilst I scraped fecal matter off the walls (no, that is not a metaphor, there was literally poo on the walls). I think I got the better deal. Given the history of course I don’t want to talk to them. So, first try is to lodge the claim via the website but I can’t, so we do it the old-fashioned way, over the phone.

After a protracted conversation made more frustrating by the basic details they have on file not taking me into account at all, I think I’m done, but it’s not that easy.

They want “evidence” that I owned the things that were stolen. Evidence sounds so legal – like a trial, am I on trial? It feels like it. Too upsetting for this little duck and I am not proud to say I wasn’t very well mannered to the telephone operator on the other end.

‘The assessor’ is coming for a visit!

It’s a (dis)trust thing

I think I am lucky if I don’t need insurance, so if I pay for it and don’t require it, all good. The distrust comes as soon as I need something. Unlike citizen Karen who jumped in boots and all when it came time to the fraud on my credit card, my insurers who supposedly have been taking my money all these years on the basis they’ll be there when I need it, are a lot less with the trust and a great deal more with the ‘where’s the evidence’?

So how would l like to be treated by my insurance company?

Let’s go back to basics…

  • I would like the insurance people to refer to me by my correct name. Mostly, it doesn’t bug me when people stuff this up because it is a bit annoying that I don’t have the same name as my husband but am married to him. However, in this situation, where it’s a bit emotional and raw, I would like them to care enough to check and just confirm that they’ve got it right (which they didn’t).
  • I would like the insurance people to communicate with me via the method I have chosen when I put the claim in (i.e. my phone number and email address). This to me, seems super simple, I really shouldn’t even have to say it but they did email and call my husband even though it was me that initiated the claim.
  • I would like to feel like I am being given the benefit of the doubt. The mention of the word evidence really makes it hard to feel like you’re still a customer rather than a criminal. Now I must dig up receipts and find more paperwork.
  • I would like this to be over as quickly and painlessly as possible. It seems like this is not how this goes, there’s the part that they can settle in payout straight away, there’s the items they’re going to ‘replace’ (I am confused – do they have a time machine that will take us back 18 years to that market stall where my mum bought those earrings?) and then there’s the inevitable ‘gap’ of things that are just basically not covered.

Institutional trust is at a historic low, this insurance company is doing themselves a disservice not to focus on getting the #customer basics in place and handled with a degree of empathy. The systems that are supporting the delivery of the service also don’t seem to have considered things like people having different names from one another and married couples each having their own telephone numbers and email addresses. If the school can do it then surely so can insurance providers?

Is it just my insurer? Should I look for a new one or are they all the same level of bleh?

Image credit: The Future Laboratory at Feb 2017 trend briefing, Melbourne

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