Crawford’s Verma: AI essential to speeding up claims, but “human touch” must remain at forefront

For Rohit Verma, president and chief executive of Crawford & Company, the key to speeding up the claims process lies in the transformational advancements in AI that have become more readily available to the industry.

However, Verma was quick to add that it is imperative the “human touch” within the claims process remains an important part of the service to claimants.

Speaking to The Insurer TV, Verma said there were three ways in which AI could expedite the claims process.

Firstly, from the outset, it could alert the insurers if more information was required before they began processing a claim.

“AI can tell us if there is sufficient information that we received in the first notification of loss to help us move the claim forward,” he explained.

Secondarily, according to Verma, once the necessary data is collated, AI can make a value judgement on the best way to process the claim.

“AI can determine what's the best route for a claim. So, as an example, if it's a water loss which is on the second floor, AI then says, ‘Okay, if it's a loss on the second floor, that means water's probably come down and we need to send a much more sophisticated inspector to look at that loss,’” said Verma

Lastly, Verma explained that AI could take all the inputs of data and use them to calculate a loss.

“The third is using data analytics and machine learning and actually evaluating and estimating the loss,” said Verma.

For Verma, this use of AI is central to speeding up the claims process, a process which in his view urgently requires streamlining, pointing to the two million outstanding losses from the 2017 wind season as an example.

“If I go back to the losses from 2017 – Harvey, Irma, and Maria – the three big storms that hit North America, and parts of Latin America as well, back in 2021, after four years, there were still two million claims that were open in the industry that related to that time,” said Verma.

Though speeding up the claims procedure is central to Crawford & Company's outlook, Verma was keen to add that this would not come at the cost of removing the human touch in the process.

“None of these [technologies] are in a place where the machine is making an automatic decision instead of the adjuster. In all cases, the machine is making a recommendation, which eventually the adjuster has to decide on,” Verma explained.

The preservation of the human touch is important for Verma because, more often than not, claims are being handled on what is often the "worst day" of a customer’s life, making a caring, humane approach essential.

“The customer… is having the worst day of their life, because they've gotten a damaged car, or a home which is damaged or, God forbid, someone in their family is injured.

“It's the worst day of their life, and making sure that they feel that it's going to be okay, right from the start, is extremely important,” Verma concluded.

Watch the full 13-minute interview with Rohit Verma to learn more about:

  • How climate change is affecting the claims ecosystem
  • Crawford & Company outlook for 2024
  • The importance of technology in how Crawford treats nuisance claims