Utility providers face significant risks, both in high-level management and on the front line of operations. Managers and executives must balance increasing government regulations, complex cost structures, and consumer expectations and concerns. Risk managers and other employees face high-risk tasks, fleet incidents, and more in their daily work.
6 Benefits of Risk and Claims Automation for Utility Providers
1. Elimination of manual tasks
A utility company that serves even a small population can experience hundreds, if not thousands, of claims and incidents in a single year — a number that only increases with population size. Managing the data associated with these events is a daunting task. It’s also a task that is not necessary with today’s technology. The time spent collecting, entering, organizing, and searching for data can be entirely eliminated with systems that automatically upload and categorize information. Here’s an example of an automated process:
As soon as an incident occurs, an employee (or the claimant) inputs relevant details, such as the claimant name, incident information, and any supporting documentation. This data is recorded on an online data submission form, accessed from any device with an Internet connection.
Instantly, the risk manager and/or claims department is sent a notification saying that a new claim or incident has been created in the system. They can then view the details and take action. Depending on the desired workflow, claims of a certain type and/or severity can also be sent automatically to an adjuster or TPA.
Alternatively, if a risk manager needs to refer back to a previous incident, they can search by any category to instantly access claim and incident details, payment information, and supporting documents.
This process eliminates time-consuming manual data entry. With the elimination of this task, risk managers are able to direct attention to more valuable activities, such as risk prevention and mitigation — the true goal of professionals in the industry. Further, human error is all but eliminated, claims and incidents are reported faster, and data is uploaded instantly.
2. Analysis and reporting
Analysis and reporting are simplified with more accurate and accessible data.
Many types of analysis can be useful to utility risk managers. First and foremost is trend analysis. Claims and incident trend analysis is particularly valuable as incidents are the number one predictor of future claims. Trends identify problem areas and illuminate their root cause, allowing risk managers to fix a problem at its source.
For example, if a utility risk manager is notified by the system that there is an increased frequency of fleet incidents in one area of a city, this is an indication of an issue that needs to be addressed. By recognizing the specific problem, the risk manager can work with the employees in this area to determine whether training, the type of vehicle, or some other issue is causing this high frequency. They can then search for a solution that can directly reduce claims frequency and severity.
Utility providers may also consider comparison analysis to determine how their claim frequency and costs measure up to a previous period or a competitor of a similar size. Another option is loss-cause analysis, to dig deeper into risk-related changes over time and what may have caused them.
Risk automation simplifies analysis as data is continuously collected and organized and risk managers have constant access to the most up-to-date and accurate information. This enables them to report on the details that matter most and visually represent the meaningful impact of the risk department. Instead of compiling data from multiple sources, it is organized at the press of a button.
3. Decision making
When executives have access to better reports, they can be confident they’re using the best possible data and make more effective decisions. In risk-related situations, time is often essential. This confidence allows a utility provider to remain adaptable and respond appropriately to even the most complex or novel situations.
Decision making is also aided by communication. With an automated risk system, it’s less likely that risk managers will be unaware of an incident, overlook a limitation period, or miss a payment. They can setup reminders and notifications that will be sent directly to the inbox of relevant parties. If necessary, they can deliver reports and statistics on the fly since all data is at their fingertips.
Better data and data insights can help risk managers get buy-in from other departments and senior management on needed risk management initiatives and the budgets required to finance them. When claim and incident causes and costs are clearly quantified, and trends are apparent, illustrating the ROI of a risk management initiative is much easier.
4. Employee safety
Utility employees work in high-risk environments on a day-to-day basis. A simple oversight or mistake can have costly or even fatal consequences. With automated risk management, it’s easy to track incidents and near-misses and determine their root causes. Risk managers can also track fleet and equipment data, such as when they are likely to need repair or replacement.
With processes such as these, it will be clear to all employees that safety is a high priority and valued by leaders in the company. This will help create a safety culture and lead to a decreased number of incidents and injuries.
5. Better service
All the benefits described above allow risk employees to handle claims more effectively and operate with a higher level of safety. The result: better public service and reputation. The utility company will keep its customers happier by responding to their claims in a timely manner while attracting and maintaining excellent employees with their reputation for meaningful and safe work.
6. Return on investment
Many organizations, especially traditional ones, may be hesitant to make the significant upfront investment that comes with an automated system. However, the return is more than worth it. Plus, the cost isn’t as high as many think.
With trend analysis and reporting, risk managers will ideally be able to implement mitigation strategies that can lower claim frequency or costs. By being better prepared for negative situations and acting proactively, risk managers can save thousands of dollars. These savings, as well as eliminating manual employee tasks, easily cover the amount of the investment and provide a clear ROI.
In addition, demonstrating that there is a formalized risk management plan in place and that claim frequency is decreasing will help a utility company negotiate better insurance premiums.
As the technology in our professional and personal lives evolves, all stakeholders impacted by utilities will expect their providers to change too. Any utility provider that is overwhelmed with their current claims and risk process and recognizes the need for change should consider implementing an automated claims and risk management system.
ClearRisk’s Claims, Incident, and Risk Management System brings all the benefits described above and more. We understand the complexity of utility providers and can adapt our product and services to your unique needs. Would you like more information on what we can do for you and your organization?
If you found this article helpful, you may be interested in: