2016 ACE - America’s Claims Event
 Tim Felks
Tim Felks
Head of Property Claims
Farmers Insurance

What 3 qualities should an effective claims professional have?

Effective claims professionals tend to have the following 3 qualities…they're customer oriented, curious, and inclusive. Claim professionals at all levels in an organization interact with internaland external customers. Customer oriented people consider the impact to the customer in their decisions and processes. Effective claim professionals improve processes, drive innovation, and improve business outcomes because they ask "why" when something doesn't make sense, and they're always looking for better ways to do things. Effective claim professionals also seek input and ideas from those who think differently than they do. They understand we live in a diverse society with people from all walks of life, and seeking that outside input improves thinking and decision making.

What are the top challenges facing claims professionals today?
Claim Professionals today face challenges that we didn't see as few as 5 years ago. We've entered into an instantaneous society in which most things are a click or touch away, and our customers expect that kind of service and interaction when they have a claim. Meeting and exceeding customer expectations in this era is more challenging because today’s customer doesn't necessarily compare the claims experience from one insurance carrier to another, they compare their claims experience to their experience on Amazon, or booking an airline ticket online. We're not just competing with one another for a customer’s loyalty, we're competing with everyone in our connected society.

What does it take to be a successful claims leader?
Successful claims leaders I've had the pleasure of working with have typically been collaborative, understood their strengths and opportunities, and are inclusive in their approach to developing talent. Claims leaders interact with internal and external stakeholders across the organization. Customers, agents, underwriting, product management, claims staff, and others can be impacted by claim leaders’ decisions. Effective leaders know when to collaborate with and engage these groups in decision making and addressing issues that could impact them.
Successful claim leaders typically possess a higher level of emotional Intelligence which allows them to quickly understand situations and adjust their leadership style to best fit the need. Successful leaders know when to coach, when to gather the ideas of others, and also when to be decisive. Utilizing the appropriate leadership style for a given situation not only increases effectiveness, but also engagement of the entire team.

How do you see claims changing in the next 3-5 years?
Innovations such as drones, tablets, and connected homes will shape the future claims landscape. Connected homes with moisture, smoke, and theft detection devices will prevent or reduce the size and scope of losses. We will see more driverless cars and ride sharing options which could change auto purchasing habits and auto insurance products. Technology will increase the ability for insured's to self-report and self-adjust certain losses, and will allow carriers to adjust more claims remotely.

What do you hope to convey to the audience at the America’s Claims Event?
Now is an exciting time to be in claims. It seems each week there's a new technology or innovation that has the potential to transform our business. No matter the technology, no matter the innovation, claims is still a people business and we can't lose sight of the fact that behind every shiny object, every computer screen, and every process is a customer who has experienced a loss and a claims professional who can make the difference in that customer’s experience.