June 24, 2019

3 Ways to Curb “Info-Pollution” in the Claims Department!

A scarce resource in any claim operation — whether an insurer, TPA or self-insured setting — is the time and attention of the claim staff.  To harness this time and attention for maximum effectiveness and productivity, claim supervisors and management should create a work environment that fosters sustained attention.  This involves eliminating distractions and interruptions that can get in the way of adjusters investigating, evaluating and negotiating. 

Overload

Here are three tips:

·         #1.  Avoid REPLY ALL.  Be sparing in using the REPLY ALL button.  Does everyone really need to see the reply?  Is it just a CYA maneuver?  In some cases, adjusters who have slipped and have used the REPLY ALL key have experience embarrassment, humiliation or even termination.  It can also be a massive time waster. Think about it. Does everyone need to see your reply that says, “Thank you”? How about the reply that says, “I can’t cannot attend the scheduled meeting”? There are even software plug-ins that offices and companies can buy to force employees to policy forgetting reply all and inquires as to whether it’s really necessary for everyone to see the reply. Every minute spent by the claim staff reading unnecessary incoming e-mails is time siphoned from investigating and handling claims.

 ·        #2. Curb after-hours email.  Do you really need to send an email over the weekend or after hours?  This can create a false sense of urgency and create a climate where adjusters feel they are never fully away from the job.  (Some businesses have adopted rules designating no email on Fridays or on weekend.) 

 ·        #3.  Don’t carpet-bomb your claim staff.  Are you inundating your staff with FYI emails?  A friend worked for an insurer whose President sends 5-8 emails a day, articles pulled from various trade and business publication.  It’s not that these articles lack relevance; they all pertain to the market space of this specialty insurer (health care).  It’s just that the staff feels it would need to spend an hour or more a day keeping up with all these articles passed along.  In the meantime, there are accounts to underwrite and claims to handle.  Were they to actually read all the material, they would fall hopelessly behind in handling claims and underwriting submissions, and catch flak for that.  On the other hand, they have angst about the overlooking some important information nugget – or at least a nugget that the CEO views as important.  Or, they worry that the CEO may ask then about some item she passed along and be caught unawares, looking unprepared to the boss.  Both scenarios are stressful. 

Bosses who carpet-bomb their staff with emails, memo’s, voice mails and communiqués invite burnout, disaffection and operational sludge.  Information overload and data fatigue sets in.  Barraged by the President’s emails, the staff can either burn lots of time trying to keep up (this, on top of their own professional reading that they think is relevant) or delete most of these and feel guilty or angst over missing out on something that the boss thinks is important.  This is not to say that claim bosses should sit on their hands or be uncommunicative.  It means be selective in the frequency of your communication.  By all means, get the word out on issues vital to the claim department.  Be judicious.  Pick and choose your spots.  When you emphasize everything, you end up emphasizing nothing.

 Q:  What ways have YOU seen where information pollution has cluttered the claims operation and how have you seen it addressed?  Post here or email me at kevin@kevinquinley.com

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