Filing an insurance claim has become simpler and faster thanks to online technology companies have adopted.
Colonial Life, for example, recently launched a service that allows customers to file online a host of claims from disability and accident events to claims for critical illness treatment and hospitalization.
“Online claims filing provides a convenient, simple way to file claims and allows us to pay claims even faster,” said Deborah Rasmussen, Colonial Life vice president, Claims.
The insurance industry is following the trail banks have blazed in offering products and services online, Rasmussen said.
Ecommerce, she noted, has shaped and formed the way many companies provide customer service. “That’s how consumers do business,” she said.
Initially, banks offered customers basic online services like checking on account balances, transferring funds, bill pay, and applying for car loans, credit cards and mortgages. These days banks have launched smartphone applications that allow customers to do their business – even electronically depositing checks – on the move.
Offering customers technology to file claims online also meets the company’s goals to provide “simple, modern and personal benefit experiences” whether it involves enrollment, administration or filing claims, she said.
“We’re very aligned with that corporate goal because that’s going to help us grow,” Rasmussen said.
The Columbia-based company, which offers supplemental benefits for life insurance, accident insurance, disability insurance and other products provided by employers, aims to grow to 5 million customers by 2020. The company presently has 3.7 million, said company spokeswoman Jeanne Reynolds
To use the online claims service, customers can log onto Colonial Life’s website and click on “Individuals & Policyholders” to register for the secure policyholder website. From there, the “Claims Center” tab brings up links to filing options for claims.
Colonial Life uses a conversational claims “wizard” process – similar to Turbo Tax – to guide customers through a series of questions tailored for their type of coverage, Rasmussen said. Customers don’t need to worry about skipping important steps in the process, because the program won’t send the claim until all required questions have been answered, according to a release.
Customers can upload supporting claim documentation from their computer or mobile device, she added. That means a customer can even take a picture of a bill with their cellphone and upload it to the claims department, she said.
Once the claim is filed, customers receive electronic confirmation the claim has been forwarded to Colonial Life.
“We want to make it as simple, as easy, as convenient as possible for them,” Rasmussen said.
Filing online is just one way that Colonial Life is handling claims, she added. The company still takes claims via fax or mail. And, of course, if a customer has questions and needs to talk to someone, there’s always the phone.
Customers also can go online to check the status of their claims. The online service also offers customers the option of receiving emails or text messages with updates on their claims and notification of when a claim is paid. “That is pushing information out rather than making you call us,” she said.
Claims usually are handled in one day, Rasmussen said. As the process continues to evolve, Colonial Life expects to begin offering in late October or early November customers the option of having their claims paid by direct deposit, she added.
Aflac, a provider of voluntary insurance that has its Group Operations headquartered in Columbia, instituted a similar online claims submission process in February 2015. Aflac’s initiative, called One Day Pay, allows the company to receive, process, approve and disburse payment to policyholders for eligible claims within just one business day, according to a press release.
If an eligible claim is submitted via Aflac’s SmartClaim process by 3 p.m. ET, Monday-Friday, with all supporting documentation, the company processes, approves and pays the claim within one business day, the release added. Aflac recommends that customers sign up for direct deposit enrollment to get their claims payment faster.
“One Day Pay is simply the natural evolution of the way we’ve always done business,” Dan Amos, Aflac chairman and CEO, said in a statement. “At Aflac, we make it a priority to process and pay, not deny and delay.”
Rasmussen estimates that 20-25% of the 800,000 claims Colonial Life handles annually are processed online, and that percentage is expected to grow as the company begins promoting the service directly to customers and their employers.
She noted that Colonial Life’s customers already report high satisfaction with the company’s claims service. Results of an external survey released early this year showed 95% of Colonial Life claimants were satisfied with the overall handling of their claim last year, Rasmussen said.
“Helping people at the difficult times in their lives is at the heart of what we do,” Rasmussen said. “Making the claim submission and payment process faster and easier for customers is a top priority.”
Reach Chuck Crumbo at 843-726-7542.