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Digital payment platforms and the path to a better claim payment process

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From covering planes, trains, automobiles, apartments, homes, businesses and beyond, the Property and Casualty (P&C) insurance is a massive, critical industry. In 2018 alone, P&C carriers in the United States doled out $49.6 billion in claims payments to policy holders– and over 50 percent of these payments were issued via paper check. Fast-forward to 2020; a global pandemic and nationwide lockdowns quickly introduced a laundry list of new challenges associated with P&C carrier’s primary claims payment method.  

Simply put, sending out a claims payment via paper check requires policyholders to wait for a week, sometimes longer, to get much-needed funds after an accident or crisis. If an essential worker’s vehicle is damaged in an accident on their morning commute to the hospital, they may not have time to wait for a paper check to come in the mail. Carriers suddenly encountered immense pressure to find faster, more innovative methods to send money to their claimants.

But even before COVID-19, policyholders were demanding change. A 2019 research study conducted by PYMNTS.com confirms policyholders want speed and choice when it comes to how they receive their claims payments. Fifty-five percent of insurance policyholders agreed it was important to have a choice in how they received payments. This sentiment isn’t surprising when almost 60% of policyholders who received at least one payment in the past year did not have the option to choose their preferred method of payment.

Customer churn will be the likely outcome if policyholder demands for faster funds and payment choice continue to be answered with waiting on a paper check. That’s why P&C carriers are exploring new, end-to-end digital payment platforms to help them stay one step ahead of whatever comes next, while crafting loyal relationships with their policyholders.

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Digital transformation isn’t easy

Insurers understand the need to digitize their claims experiences by continuing to innovate around faster payments. Carriers have been adding patchwork payments tech for years but still face a gap between what they can offer and what their clients expect.

Digital transformation isn’t easy. Payment innovations must often coexist with the traditional payment methods that still suit some policyholder’s needs. Keeping checks alive while simultaneously responding to the need for speedy payments can be challenging. Between introducing new digital tools, updates and upgrades to legacy payment systems and continuing to support paper checks, it’s safe to say P&C carriers have their hands full.

Insurers are tasked with creating a win-win scenario: Maximize their investment in legacy systems and still deliver the cutting-edge speed and payment convenience that today’s tech-savvy policyholders expect.

Many insurers are overwhelmed, and understandably lack the appetite to endure friction caused by digital transformation. That’s why some leading carriers are looking to invest in new digital payment platforms to boost the efficiency of their outbound claims payment processes. With the pandemic accelerating digital transformation across several industries, most P&C carriers continue to firmly hold technology budgets in place and are looking insights into where to invest their funds.  While there are many kinds of digital payment platforms on the market, here’s a high-level overview of the capabilities best suited to help P&C carriers forge a path to a better claim payment process.

Choice for claimants

A robust digital payment platform offers what claimants want – choices in how they receive their funds. Select platforms allow insurers to enable one or more payment methods, based on their organization’s unique requirements. At a bare minimum, the platform should facilitate payment options like credit cards, debit cards, direct deposit (ACH) and more, while also being flexible enough to accommodate new payment methods in the future.

Platforms that offer eChecks as a payment option can be of great value to carriers as well. It allows carriers to start with a payment method nearly all claimants are familiar with (the check) and digitizes the process to drastically increase the speed of payment delivery with minimal handling. Platforms that allow carriers include a detailed, freeform remittance information and EOP in the same payment can provide a better customer experience, too. 

Speed (for claimants and carriers)

Digital payment platforms can provide added speed beyond fund availability. The ability to manage payee enrollment within the platform can fast-track the claims payment process as well. Platform capabilities that enroll, capture and securely store payee information, (like bank account or credit card information required to issue certain digital payment types), accelerate adoption and reduce the staff workload involved in onboarding policyholders for electronic payments.

When it comes to speed for carriers, the implementation and training process should not be overlooked. In today’s conditions, carriers no longer have the luxury of months or years of custom development, extended testing and intensive staff training. “Plug and play” platforms, such as those that leverage existing systems or connect via APIs, will serve P&C insurers far better, thanks to implementations that occur in hours or days. 

Security

Speed and choice shouldn’t be the only objectives when adopting a new digital payment platform, however. Innovative security features are paramount, too. The less information exchanged equals less risk for all parties involved. Some leading platforms eliminate the need for a claimant’s banking information, and only require an email address to send a payment.  

 

Digital payment platforms bridge the gap

Although checks payments will likely continue to play a large role for years to come, the pandemic has shattered this status quo payment method and accelerated the need for newer, faster digital payment options. New operating processes that began during lockdowns are slowly settling into permanence. P&C carriers are aware of to the need to increase the processing and fund receipt speeds claimants now expect, without sacrificing security. Digital payment platforms are poised to help insurance carriers on their digital transformation journey and respond to claimants’ needs for faster, more flexible payments when it matters most.

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