Benefits of having an in-house claims department

24 May 2013

With claims as diverse as fire damage at a factory to the devastation of water damage to a home, the job of an insurance claims department is both interesting and challenging.

Lesley Morris, Claims Manager at Rossborough Insurance Guernsey, looks at the benefits to customers of having an in-house claims department.

Anyone who has made an insurance claim will know how difficult a time it can be. Not only has the unfortunate incident occurred, but there is much paperwork to complete before a claim can be made.

It is sometimes difficult to deal with complicated insurance issues and documentation without guidance and often the Insurer's claims department is not in the Channel Islands. Dealing with insurance companies on the mainland and further afield can be time consuming and stressful, compared to the convenience of calling or visiting a local broker. The whole experience can be made easier by the existence of a dedicated in-house claims team and Rossborough's expertise in dealing with claims reduces the worry and inconvenience a claim can cause.

Staff within a specialised claims department can help complete claims forms and advise what information insurers require. This means that customers, already stressed about the situation, are not left alone to deal with unknown staff at the insurance company. Being local, we can explain the relevant circumstances and liaise with UK insurers, who are not always aware of the differences in the law or procedures in the Channel Islands.

Due to the nature of the narrow roads within the island, it is not surprising that the most common type of motor claim involves single vehicle accidents where damage is caused when scraping a granite wall at the side of the road. Property claims most commonly occur due to water damage which can be extremely expensive. Also, as the Islands suffer with adverse weather at times, this increases the frequency of travel claims, which can cause real distress for islanders trying to get away for a family event or long-awaited holiday. The type of claims most on the increase however are liability claims and Rossborough can provide companies with the help and advice they need to cope with the problems incurred when negligence is alleged against them.

It is at times like these that the personal attention of a dedicated claims team is most valuable. We can visit clients, liaise with Insurers over queries, ensure that the policy is interpreted properly and that the client or claimant receives a fair settlement as quickly as possible. Our in-house team has extensive technical knowledge and can give expert claims advice and assistance with all negotiations.

Figures show that for property claims fire damage can be the most expensive to insurers, with the average pay-out in the UK being £10,200. For travel, on average, it is £554, theft claims are generally in the region of £1,500 and the average motor claim is about £4,527, but of course it is liability claims that are the most costly and complex to handle.

Also costly to UK insurers is the large volume of fraudulent claims, which are common and cost about £2.1billion a year, adding on average a £50 increase to the premium cost to individual policyholders.

Surveys have shown that one in 20 people would consider it acceptable to submit an inflated claim to their insurer. Many people may think insurance fraud is a victimless crime but it is not. Honest customers end up footing the bill through the higher premiums they then have to pay.

Locally, the picture is actually more encouraging. False claims are, in fact, rare. We do, however, see some exaggerated ones, but an in-house team is trained to spot these fairly easily. We look for things like inconsistencies in the information provided during the notification of a claim and the paperwork subsequently submitted. Also the inability to prove the loss or support the claim amount with suitable documentation sets alarm bells ringing, as does the reluctance to notify the police for loss property or theft claims.

More unusual claims, whilst perfectly legitimate, can be interesting to deal with. At Rossborough, the claims department has dealt with many, including one or two more memorable ones. One particular client was happily eating his cereal and his hearing aid dropped into the bowl. Without realising, he carried on eating and swallowed it. Another had a sneezing fit while on holiday in Florida and his false teeth flew out and were eaten by an alligator.

While they may sound amusing, incidents like these are still potentially very upsetting for customers. Insurance is about transferring the risk and worry to the Insurer to give protection and peace of mind to the policyholder.  Should a problem arise Rossborough strive to ensure that the inconvenience caused and the stress suffered by individuals or companies is minimised.



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