2020 Predictions: Insurers to take back control of assistance and claims

It is my prediction that 2020 is going to be perhaps one of the most interesting years to be in the assistance and claims industry as unexpected partnerships and major acquisitions are announced, and for the first time ever; agencies assess how to regulate a previously unregulated industry in a move which has been a long time coming.

Perhaps the biggest change we will see though in 2020 is major insurers taking back control of their own assistance and claims by building their own in-house capabilities, and not relying so much on outside providers. Insurers who have followed this path over the past couple of years have proven to not only be more profitable, but their customer reviews have also drastically improved.

As we leave 2019, we are already seeing a trend of travel insurers, corporate clients with travelling staff and NGOs that are moving away from ‘global’ assistance providers, instead adopting a more strategic approach by partnering with specialised regional providers.

It used to be that insurers wanted a one-size-fits-all solution for medical assistance and insurance claims, and as the years have progressed, insurers have requested more and more from their providers creating a mutually dependable partnership, but in the process this has pushed up the fees to a point where its simply no longer profitable for insurers to carry on these agreements.

These business relationships are so dependent that some major travel insurers in the UK don’t even have access to their own travellers' data. They have to submit a request to access a file, and in some cases it takes over a week to receive information about one traveller. Imagine if that was a corporate HR department with hundreds, or thousands of travellers!

In part, insurers have created this problem by requesting more and more from providers, but in the process, the costs of assistance has increased so much so that in some cases it no longer makes financial sense for insurers to be in business. They exist purely for their assistance partner to profit, and that’s not an exaggeration.

Insurers in 2020 are going to take back control, not only to retain brand integrity, but also to significantly reduce their assistance and claims costs; and perhaps even more importantly; to own and be able to access data about their own travellers.

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