10 Ways you can improve your insurance application and claim forms

22nd January 2018

Insurance forms, whether they are used to apply for a product or to submit a claim, are an absolute nuisance to fill out. I’m sure that if you were to ask someone in the street if they would fill out an insurance claim form or do an interpretive dance skit right there on the spot, they’d start moving their bodies.  

So what are some of the general bugbears when it comes to insurance application and claim forms? We’ve listed some of the major frustrations down below and, to help you, we’ve added a bit of advice on how to improve on your forms so that your customers become less irritated with you.

  1. Be clear about why you need certain information. Some application and claim forms really seem to ask for unnecessary information, which can all get a bit lost on the client. For example, some car insurance quote forms ask for the customer’s home insurance renewal date – it’s hardly what someone has to hand at any given moment in time. It means they have to haul out their files and find out when they took out the other policy. We know why you’re doing it – so you can cross sell when it comes time to renew. It may be good for business, but it doesn’t diminish customer frustration as they scratch around for the information.
  2. Asking for information that customers would not know. It’s important to know a lot of information about the customer and what they want to insure. That’s a no brainer, certainly. But insurers can make some rather outlandish requests. Some home insurance renewal or application forms ask customers what the rebuild cost of the house would be. How on earth would customers know this unless they work in the building industry? If you have digital forms, why not install a little calculator that may be able to help the customer with the estimation. Or perhaps get a specialist on board in your team that could help with such a calculation, via chatbot if necessary, if the customer is uncertain about what to put down on the form.
  3. Ditch using technical language. Of course, the insurance industry is not the only one that bombards its customers with technical words that hardly anyone understands. When it comes to your forms, make the language plain, simple and easy to understand. This is already regulated but if you do come across a word that the rules say you can use but that you find customers often query – rather replace it with jargon that they would understand.
  4. Make forms easy to use. This may be such a simple thing to say but it can be so infuriating when you type in your details and the form won’t let you progress to the next stage because it ‘doesn’t like’ how you input the information. For example, some forms require that you put a space in the middle of the post code – often without an explanation. This can be even more infuriating as you have to guess what the form has an issue with. Plus, if a field is mandatory in the form – mark it as such!
  5. Ditch the paperwork. In this day and age why would you need the customer to scrounge around for a pen? A lot of hype has been made around Lemonade Insurance Company’s boast about being able to settle a customer’s claims in record speed online. This company has embraced artificial intelligence (AI) and created an app where customers can submit their claims. There’s not even a need for typing in information – it simply allows customers to speak to the camera. If you are worried about fraud and you want to get really clever I’m sure there’s a way of reading a customer’s body language to tell if he/she is telling the truth. However, if you’re nowhere near hiring a mentalist to take on such a task, it’s simply a case of cross referencing the claim with the policy and what the customer has declared. It’s not like UK insurers have not embraced technology at all. Zurich, for example, launched FaceQuote – a selfie app which can guestimate customers’ age. It will reveal how much life cover would cost per month based on the age generated. And lets not forget Biba’s collaboration with Insure Apps, which claims to cut the average commercial motor and fleet claim reporting time by up to 90%. While the likes of Lemonade can boast about quick claims processes, there’s not always a need for speed. Remember, it’s the form that we mostly have an issue with. It’s OK to get a human involved to check all the information as long as the need for hard paper is done away with. Remember - cutting down on paper is also kinder to the environment.
  6. Embrace technology. This ties in with the above point. But to expand on it – there’s a reason why people generally prefer to communicate via video or voice recording. It’s just simpler and quicker. And with the chaos that consumes most of our lives (kids, work and chores) no one has the patience to sit down and fill out forms with a pen. This was backed up with a survey from Auger, which found that 18-34 year olds prefer to use technology when making insurance claims. This doesn’t mean you have to get rid of humans altogether – the survey also found that 64% of 18-24 year olds prefer using technology but with a person on the other side offering an online chat and guidance.
  7. Test and apply using your own forms. When last have you tried to apply for an insurance product using your own website and testing it via a multitude of devices (smartphone, tablet and computer). How user friendly are your forms? Are they responsive? Do they work? And, more importantly, do they work seamlessly on all the devices that your customers typically use? If you find your own online application process cumbersome and time consuming – chances are your customers do too. If there’s fault with the online application process, take care to fix the bugs. Customers may not always report faults with your website or app – they’ll simply go elsewhere for a quote if they run into difficulty. This is why it’s so important to test your digital forms on a regular basis.
  8. Get your claims solution to solve the problem. This may not be something that all insurers will automatically be able to do. But it’s certainly the future. For example Flight Guard, one of the 22 top startups invited to the Startupbootcamp InsureTech London, helps people to rebook flights from a wide selection of (US) airlines if they are in the unfortunate position of having their flights cancelled. It’s fine to offer customers the ability to make a fast claim – but it’s even better to offer a solution at the same time.
  9. Let your clients know where they are. Do you remember how you, as a child, used to ask your parents ‘Are we there yet?’, whenever the family embarked on a long road trip? Well the need to ask this question has never really gone away. If your forms are long and complex let your users know how close they are to their destination (end of the form). This can be done by way of a progress bar or breadcrumb. It will provide some reassurance to the customer that the end is in sight.
  10. Make sure your form prefills information. If you know your customer or if a customer has filled out this form in some way before, make sure that the information is saved and re-used. If anything has changed make sure that the user can edit the information easily or validate it if things have stayed the same.

When it comes to forms and claims, think ‘Less is more’. Customers don’t want to be bogged down with long complex questions asking them about other insurance products that they’ve already signed up for or asking them to work out how much they think it would cost to rebuild their home. It’s so easy to rely on customers for the answers but this way of garnering information is not easy on the customer. If a customer is made to work for your business, why would they want to do business with you?

It can be hard to guess what ways customers want to communicate especially if your they vary in age. You may argue that one generation prefers forms while another prefers online chats. While this may be true – it’s not impossible to provide both options to cover all your bases with advances in technology.  

While being able to post a selfie to get a life insurance quote may sound like a gimmick there are other advances that may be an important asset and help to customers. A baby boomer may prefer forms but what if he or she has Parkinson's and can’t hold a pen properly? Here a video explaining how an item was lost or stolen to submit a contents would be very useful to the client. And making the claims or application process easy may be just the reason why your customer keeps on coming back.

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