The first thing that probably pops into one's head at the mention of Safelite, the auto glass and claims management company, is its familiar jingle: “Safelite repair, Safelite replace.”
One probably even hums it while reading those words.
The Ohio-based company, founded in 1947, built its reputation as the company that dispatches a truck and a friendly face to wherever there’s a car with a broken windshield so that it can be fixed on the spot. In most cases, that happens without the consumer having to pay a dime, since windshield repair and replacement is covered fully by most insurance policies. Safelite processes those glass-related claims for eight of the top 10 insurers nationwide, and is paid by those insurers once a repair has been made.
That first-loss claims expertise, Safelite Solutions SVP of Strategic Client Sales & Support Jon Cardi told Karen Webster, is something that underpins Safelite Solutions, the claims management platform that will process 1 million First Notice of Loss (FNOL) auto claims this year and 450,000 property claims for 120 different clients.
Today, in an effort to streamline that first-loss claims experience, Safelite and Ingo Money have teamed up to provide instant payout of those claims, enabled by a one-time use mobile app that moves along the claims process for the consumer. In tandem with Ingo Money as the push payments payout engine, Cardi said Safelite can shrink the traditional 14-day claims-to-payment cycle to one day.
“This is total disruption within the insurance industry,” he emphasized, and on a significant scale.
Cardi said there are 20 million auto claims a year, with 70 percent of those collisions resulting in a dented, but drivable, vehicle.
How It Works
Smartphones with apps, Cardi said, are the claims-processing game changers, turning the process from a friction-filled game of telephone tag with an agent to a self-service process via a mobile app.
A consumer who’s been in an accident — where there’s damage, but the car is drivable — is asked to download a one-time mobile app and upload photos of the damage, along with a short video. An estimate is sent back to the consumer within an hour. Should the end consumer accept the estimate (and they may not, if the damage is deemed not worth fixing by the owner), funds are disbursed instantly for use at the auto shop for the repairs. Should there be ancillary repairs needed, the company can facilitate funds pushed from the insurance firm directly to the body shop.
This cuts a significant number of steps where, in the traditional process, an FNOL would be filed — taking its place as the initial report to the insurance provider that some damage has been done. Then, there’s normally contact from the insurance provider, and there might be an adjuster needed to ascertain the damage. The body shop? It helps if that repair facility is approved by the insurance carrier, but the process can, optimally, take several days or even weeks from initial notice to final payout.
As the saying goes, a picture is worth … well, in this case, maybe not a thousand words, but a fair amount of verbiage that would traditionally be tied to describing and documenting damage. The recent launch of a digital photo solution — utilized by the driver, who takes photos with the solution and uploads them to the ClaimGo Auto app — helps speed the process and ensures accurate documentation of the damage.
Pushing (Payments) To Kill The Check
Making the move to digital, Cardi said, does more than simply expedite a claims payment to a consumer who’d like to repair their car. Freeing up businesses from the shackles of paper-chasing means better transparency, cash flow management and even better customer satisfaction.
Beyond the time savings, there is the added advantage of bottom-line efficiency, too, said Cardi. He noted to Webster that “there is a top 10 insurance writer that has seven-figure issues with checks being fraudulently cashed. They are paying body shops and are paying customers, but checks are being intercepted and they are paying the claim twice.”
Consider the case where a claims settlement has been made to an insured party and the check is never cashed. The insurer must keep track of that data and give the state that money. For a national writer, accounting for those unclaimed funds stretches across all 50 states — an arduous and expensive task.
Against the tech-enabled Safelite process, where completion rates touch 99.4 percent, and where confirmation helps eliminate such inefficiencies, said Cardi, “when we are talking to our clients their eyes light up.”
Cardi predicted that, in the very near future, telematics is going to drive most of these innovations tied to insurance. The car is going to create an alert, the driver is going to be tied to their smart device or smartphone, and they are going to be able to walk through these processes as soon as the accident has happened. Think of it as digitizing the first mile of getting the claims process documented and settled.
Besides, Ingo Money’s CEO Drew Edwards said, “dropping a check in the mail is so 30 years ago.”