This month AgentSmart had the pleasure to sit down with Allianz Global Assistance’s Travel Claims Director Jeff Rolander to discuss the claims life cycle from end-to-end, and how travel agents can provide assistance in educating their customers on the needed documentation to file a claim.
Jeff and his team of over 100+ claims examiners are responsible for receiving and responding to the almost 300,000 claims we receive each year through our call center and electronically by both customers and travel agents alike.
One popular question we often receive is what happens to my claim after I’ve hung up or pressed send? Rolander explains that the process is quite simple, and only includes about 5 steps from beginning to end.
First, a customer will file a claim over the phone or online. The call is then received by an Allianz Global Assistance associate in our Mexico office or on location at our Richmond, Virginia headquarters.
“They will then take the First Notice of Loss (FNOL) report –retrieving the customers’ original policy and documenting their purpose for filing a claim. From this conversation an agent will advise the customer of what documentation will be required to complete their claim,” says Jeff. “If a traveler chooses to file online, a representative will receive their information, and request the required documentation electronically.”
Customers will then provide supporting documentation for their claim. This can be by fax, email, physical mail, or uploading documents to their online account – regardless of how the original claim was filed.
Jeff notes that, “While the quickest way for a document to be reviewed is through the use of the online claims tool, we are properly equipped to receive, review, and store hard copies of all documentation.”
Only after all requested information has been received can the claims processing begin, and customers can expect the review period to last anywhere from 7-10 days if no other information is needed.
The claim is then routed to the proper examiner for review. Using our intelligent assignment process, we’ve developed a system that delivers claims to examiners based on their availability and claim/policy specific expertise. Some team members possess deep knowledge in baggage related claims and policy benefits, while others are well versed in the complexities of medical and injury claims.
“What makes this process so valuable to our customers’ experience is that almost every claim and associated piece of documentation is evaluated by human eyes before rejection or approval. If additional documentation is required, or if clarity is needed, it will be requested before moving forward,” Rolander explains.
“We also have an additional process known as Next Gen Claims, reducing the friction of the claim process for certain claim types. Depending on the information requested for the claim, and what was provided by the customer, the system will provide automatic adjudication. While it is small today, we are looking for ways to make it larger in the future.”
Jeff also notes that even with an automated process for claims decisions; no rejection goes out the door without first passing through a live claims examiner.
Finally, after a claim and its associated documents are reviewed, the examiner will submit a decision. Smaller quantity claims are typically handled by the examiner, while claims of higher values are sent to quality assurance for additional review. Jeff reviews significantly large or elaborate claim payments, as well as our CEO Mike Nelson, depending on its complexity.
“This hierarchy goes both ways, for approvals and denials, and our team gives equal care to both payable and unpayable claims,” says Jeff. “Our job isn’t to comb through a claim searching for exclusions that we can use to deny a customer. Instead, we say, ‘okay, what are they filing for, what are their available benefits, and where can we provide assistance?’.”
How Can a Travel Agent Assist During the Claims Process?
Another popular question that we’re often asked by our travel agents is if it is possible to file a claim on behalf of their customer. Jeff notes that while an agent can certainly help their customer file a claim, they should be mindful that it can potentially slow down the review process.
“Travel agents are invaluable in providing the detailed itineraries, receipts, and proof of circumstance we often need to begin processing a travel insurance claim.” Rolander states, “While an agent can certainly begin the First Notice of Loss (FNOL) report, depending on the nature of each individual claim, we may need to communicate with the policyholder.”
Outside of filing on their behalf, agents can improve their customers’ claims experience by communicating to customers the importance of understanding their policy, asking questions to their insurance provider about documentation needed when filing a claim, and the time period of the review process. For example, all policies do not include cancel for any reason, and for medical benefits, we require our signed Allianz Global Assistance Physician’s Statement in addition to any other documentation.
As a travel agent, being there for your travelers is important at every step of the journey. These general guidelines are useful to begin the conversation and answer many of the general questions surrounding the claims process with your customers.
If you or your clients have further questions please contact our customer service representatives at 800-284-8300 for more information.