Claims: A Leader’s Perspective – Martin Milliner, LV= General Insurance (Part 1)
The Claims sector continues to evolve and adapt in the ever-changing Insurance landscape.
I have recently interviewed a number of Claims Directors from Leading Insurance Companies, together with the leaders of several Claims Management and Supply Chain organisations, to discuss their views on various topics impacting the claims market today and potentially in the future.
Today’s interview is with Martin Milliner, Claims Director – LV= General Insurance
- Martin has over 30 years’ experience in General Insurance in various operational and technical roles, predominantly with LV= and Churchill Insurance. During that time he was involved in a variety of issues including being heavily involved in the creation of the Credit Hire GTA.
- In 2003 he became Claims Fraud Manager at RBS Insurance and was involved in the formation of the Insurance Fraud Bureau.
- In 2006 he joined LV = and is now Claims Director, managing personal lines claims across the range of LV= General Insurance (LV= GI). He is a part of the Exec Team at LV= GI as well as a member of the CII claims society, Thatcham and Insurance Fraud Bureau Boards.
Q1. What attracted you into the world of claims?
My first claims job was in 1985 for MT Motor Policies at Lloyds, so quite a long time ago and ever since then I’ve been in claims except for a couple of years, when I was working in the old AA insurance shops. I ran a couple of shops back in those days, when the AA had a High Street presence but I didn’t really enjoy the sales side of it so much. Whilst it was a great experience and paid quite well at the time, I had the words of my Lloyds claims director ringing in my ears, he said to me when I left, “Martin, once a claims man, always a claims man. I bet you get back into it!”. And that’s exactly what happened.
Q2. How do you attract claims talent?
Fortunately for us as a larger player, there’s quite a lot of movement unlike the old days where you start in claims, you finish in claims. People move around a lot more internally and there’s a lot more transferable skills. You don’t just need to know how to handle claims any more or lead people, you need to understand technology, data and so on. So it creates more of a pool of skills in terms of the people you need to attract.
We do have apprenticeship schemes. We do support a range of learning opportunities for people and generally speaking once people are in claims there is quite a lot of variety to keep them there, so, fortunately, we don’t have much of attrition problem either.
Q3. Is it structured, or is it more that people have the opportunity to move around as and when opportunities occur?
There are internal apprenticeship schemes where people are able to move into claims handling or leadership roles. Or perhaps move cross function and become a digital apprentice or start managing other things such as our machine learning models etc, thereby growing their skills from within. With some of the leadership roles there’s a bit more of a structured programme around that. CII qualifications etc. It depends what area people are actually in and what they’re interested in as much as anything.
Q4. What do you think would be the attraction for a graduate or for someone of that generation to go into the claims arena?
If you’re that sort of person, apart from helping deliver a fantastic service to our customers, I think the opportunities are in two or three directions. Firstly technical claims related roles, particularly if you’re looking at large loss claims for example whereby in affect you are working at an equivalent level to an unqualified lawyer/senior loss adjuster. So if you’ve got a legal or a forensic sort of background that’s great or as we have a significant amount of fraud in our world, a passion for crime fighting and a strong moral compass then again the intricacies around that are hugely interesting as a career choice.
It’s a compelling opportunity when you consider we’ve got the BBC and Channel 4 and Channel 5 all producing programmes around claims fraud. It tells you what you probably need to know, a) there’s a lot of it, and b) it’s quite interesting! Another area of specialism lies in our supplier relationships, we spend over half a billion pounds annually with our suppliers partners, so the relationship management and procurement of those services is a great career opportunity.
Secondly an awful lot as to why LV= GI is successful is down to our people culture, you don’t necessarily have to be in HR to run well-being or mental health programmes or D&I initiatives. Making this happen for our people is very much a part of roles that we have within claims as much as they are within an HR area. So certainly if you want to lead people, manage people, deliver great results through people or create the right environment for people to work in, there are some great opportunities for you within claims. Indeed I’d say throughout the claims profession, wherever you are you will find a real close team culture. People do work hard, often in stressful situations but will always support each other and find time to have fun too.
Q5. Do you feel that the role of a claims director has changed in recent years?
Yes. I think it’s become less about your claims or your technical knowledge in its purest sense. You have to have a different mindset – able to look at yourself as the owner of stand-alone business in many respects. So if you were a claims outsource provider, which I naturally am for our Direct and Broker businesses, then what do you need to know, what do you need to do and how do you need to do it in order to be able to run that business successfully and sustainably? So understanding the future environment from a customer perspective and the strategic direction of the business is so important – how can I deliver a claims proposition to support that?
A large part of that is about transformation, whether that’s harnessing digital solutions, AI, automation, robotics these are not just futurologists buzz words, that’s a future vision for where claims is going to. That horizon is not very far away, so one-third of my time I think of myself more as a CIO than a Claims Director.
You’ve got to be very much running your business in that way, keep evolving it otherwise it’s going to stand still particularly because as a company we pride ourselves in looking after our customers in the way that they need. You have to do it for that sort of Amazonisation of a service that people expect when they’re banking or buying online, or making an insurance claim. People need that immediacy, that personalisation of service that they’re increasingly expecting elsewhere. Harnessing the technologies and creating the strategies for doing this in a faster evolving world.
Another dimension is working far more closely with the pricing and underwriting teams. Essentially, we’re delivering an end price for our pricing and a product for underwriting people. It isn’t a pricing/underwriting proposition that’s driving our top or bottom lines, it’s as much about what can we deliver by the way of outcomes in claims that largely drives price. Similarly what we can deliver in claims increasingly drives changes in our expense ratio as well. The more we make our business efficient, the better our expense ratio is and again that transfers to a keener price for our customers at better CORs etc. I see claims very much as a powerhouse to deliver our plans and playing an increasingly important role in our success.
Q6. Have you had to learn new skills, or taken on new knowledge in recent times to enable you to facilitate what you need to do and what you need to achieve?
Absolutely. You need to be self-educated or have as much of a passion for running claims or delivering for customers or people. You need a similar passion about, as I say, how you can transform your business and create that futurologist’s vision. If you don’t have that passion or enthusiasm for doing it and unless you can lead effectively with that vision, knowledge and understanding, you’re probably in the wrong job now. You need to know how to manage data, how to manage technology and how to integrate that into your processes but at the same time cherish the part your people play. So that is very much what a large part of my waking hours is dedicated.
Q7. From a claims perspective, what would you see as the greatest challenge facing insurers today?
I don’t think it is government regulation, as ever since I’ve been in insurance there’s always something new or something changing around how we manage personal injury claims, how we’re allowed to use data etc.
I think it is that harmonisation between delivering an empathetic and human service for our customers at the same time as making it as efficient and digital as possible. Fusing technology and people to deliver a service that meets our customer’s needs and is befitting of our loss and expense ratios is basically the trick. Getting that balance right.
Q8. How do you achieve that? You’ve got the consumer who often just wants to talk to somebody. But it’s not always that way, is it?
No, it isn’t and I think that is one of the issues. When you need to make a claim – because it’s probably eight or nine, ten years since you last made a claim, it was possibly with somebody else and you don’t know what to do. It’s not like going online and making a payment to somebody using online banking. For most people it is something they want to have their hand held and a service they have a sense of entitlement to given the years of claim free premiums paid.
Some people don’t want to speak to anybody. They want to just go online, log a claim and hope it gets dealt with. Maybe with a supported journey – chatbot or live chat over their mobile device. Other people want to talk, and older or more vulnerable customers need to really have a project managed, high touch kind of relationship. So it’s trying to make certain that you’ve got all the bases covered with the right solutions that the customer wants and suits them and their lifestyle. That isn’t straightforward.
Q9. From a claim’s perspective, what would you see as the greatest opportunity for insurers?
Well I think for me, it’s possibly around trust. Trust is a big thing for us. LV= GI is one of the most trusted brands in the market and we have to work very hard at that. That’s not just about paying claims. It’s making certain that you’re honest and ethical with your customers about their premiums, charges and add-ons.
Q10. From a consumer point of view what is LV= doing to relieve the renewal stress and the whole thing about not rewarding loyalty?
Loyalty I think is an issue that needs to be sorted, but from a claims perspective I think it is just about making the claims experience as effortless as possible for our customers and really making certain that they actually get possibly more than they were expecting. There’s an opportunity to beat most people’s expectations when they claim, that moment of truth, something you’ve paid for years and suddenly you come to use it as a product. You’ve kind of invested in that and you’re hoping you’re going to get that Rolls Royce service at the back end which probably you’re entitled to.
Q11. With social media and Feefo scoring etc.. presumably those are factors that you pay quite a lot of attention to as an organisation?
Yes, we do. We’ve got a variety of things that we are looking at constantly. The telemetry around Revoo or Trustpilot or as you say Feefo or social media monitoring, you name it. We’re a big believer in Which? magazine as well as The Institute of Customer Service (ICS). Which and the ICS surveys, in particular, are really important to us and in 2019 we featured in the top ten of all organisations, let alone financial services ones. So yes, your reputation is out there. It’s as transparent as anything these days.
Q12. Are there any key initiatives that LV=’s involved with which you’d like to mention or discuss?
We recently launched, a pure electric vehicle policy, it complements the government’s road to zero policy where in 2040 nobody will be able to buy anything other than an electric vehicle or in 2032 in Scotland. The cars we’re going to drive over the next few years are going to change dramatically. It’s not just about autonomous/”crashless cars”, it’s also about that they’re going electric.
There’s going to be a hundred new models of these types of cars over the next eight years. We’re really setting ourselves up from a supply chain and our infrastructure, pricing data and services to integrate into that new car parc. It’s going to be a different thing. Your connected vehicle will know you’ve had an accident or will know you’re running out of charge and will do something to alert us to come and pick you up or take you to a charging point, tell you where the nearest charging point is or ask how we can help you now that you’ve just had an accident. All of those sorts of things will create a different operating model for insurers. The vehicles we drive and the homes we live in will naturally need a different operating model for insurers to adapt to.
Q13. With a substantial increase in the use of electric cars in the future this could potentially lead to a shortage of body shop technicians who could actually handle the volume of claims that are coming in?
Absolutely right, so that’s one of things we are working quite hard to protect ourselves against. Around 20% of the capacity in the body shop industry has disappeared in the last ten years. There’s 20% fewer body shops out there. At the same time we think only 2% of body shop technicians are trained to actually repair an electric vehicle. The kit you need is not the same as a traditional vehicle, so body shop owners have got to invest in training, upskilling and new kit to actually manage to repair these cars. Are all of these body shops going to be able to afford to do that? Probably not, so there’s definitely going to be a problem on the horizon about the availability of the right capacity, that’s for sure.
Q14. How will that be resolved?
We support certain body shops especially around that issue. We also support the programmes in terms of investing in apprenticeships and we put money into that to support the training of new capabilities. There’s a definite need though to change the old fashioned perceptions about working in bodyshops.
I was at a body shop the other day and one of the technicians, who’s just gone through his apprenticeship programme is a highly skilled technician. He’s only 20 but on £70,000 a year and driving a very smart car. And all his ill-informed mates that went to university or college and who may have looked down on him as a stereotypical “grease monkey” couldn’t be further out of touch, he’s far from that. In a body shop nowadays it would be very hard to find a speck of dust let alone any grease! These people are highly trained technicians dealing with complex technologies and materials.
Q15. With your sales hat on for a moment, What would be the attraction of working in claims within LV?
I think there are a number of things. Culturally, it is a great place to work. Secondly, there’s a huge variety of roles. There are all sorts of clearly defined career paths that you can go through and salaries and reward packages are pretty attractive compared to many professions.
There’s a strong future career longevity because if there were no claims, nobody would need insurance. You may be able to buy insurance quite easily and self-serve and transact that very easily, but when it comes to a claim, as I said earlier, most people initially want to speak to somebody. It is a complex process at times. There’s certainly the prospect of a long and varied career in claims whereas maybe in many walks of life these days, that may not be true.
Right International are specialist Headhunters to the Claims Management/Insurance market and have extensive experience of supporting Claims Management companies and Insurers, recruiting key individuals as part of the initial senior management team. We also have a successful track record of sourcing the top talent for market leading Insurance companies. If you are looking to fill a key role, please contact me to discuss how RI can help.
If you have any ideas for future articles and would like to be involved, please let me know and I would welcome any feedback.
Please click here for part 2 of this blog!
All the best,
Founder & MD
Right International Insurance Headhunters