Blog Post

The First Notice of Loss: How First Impressions Set the Tone of Any Customer’s Claim Experience

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Insurance is purchased with the carrier promising to pay should a covered loss occur. Claims service is core to an insurance company keeping their promise, being there when their customers need them most. Yet ValuePenguin’s study reveals that among the top four U.S. insurance carriers, over 50% of all complaints focused on claims. This confirms that despite the steady advancement of technology intended to improve the claim process, consistently meeting customer expectations remains a challenge.

Ease of interactions, clear expectations, responsiveness plus full and fair resolution contribute to a customer being satisfied with their claim experience. Their journey begins with their first outreach to their insurance company to report a loss, injury or other covered event. Referred to as filing a claim, claim intake or First Notice of Loss (FNOL), that initial interaction can set the tone for the customer’s experience through investigation, settlement and payment for their loss. As the expression goes, there is no second chance to create a great first impression.

Whether it be for an auto accident, submitting a parental leave claim, or a building fire, both the information gathered and process involved at claim intake is crucial to ensure a smooth and empathetic claims experience. If you have ever reported a claim, you may have found that the initial call into your insurance company was frustrating, potentially adding to the stress of the loss itself. You may have had to hold for an available service representative for what felt like a lifetime. And then the breadth and depth of questions you needed to answer, could have felt more like an interrogation than a conversation. Automation solutions can improve customer satisfaction while meeting the increasing demand for self-service options.

Multiple claim intake channels

The First Notice of Loss is the beginning of a customer’s claim journey when the initial report is communicated to their insurance carrier after a loss or covered life event, injury or illness has occurred. The overall goal of the FNOL process is to gather the information needed to take the appropriate next steps to resolve the claim accurately and as quickly as possible. Insurance companies need to support multiple claim intake channels. This includes telephonic, often through centralized call centers that provide 24 x 7 x 365 availability.

Paper reports can be received through traditional mail, including state-specific accident and workplace injury forms, and ACORD documents completed by insurance agents on behalf of their customers. New claim reports can also be received as email attachments or through inbound fax transmissions. Some insurance carriers have created web-based customer portals, mobile applications and/or chatbots to facilitate customer interactions including FNOL.

The FNOL process

The FNOL process needs to optimize getting enough information from the customer at the first point of interaction, provide the customer with insight on what to expect next and when, and with empathy.

Identifying the customer during the claim intake process is important. The insurance policy is a contract, and can have customer-specific terms on what is covered. Some customers may have special services they have purchased, that can include dedicated claims adjuster teams, customized service provider networks or the types of losses when emergency resources are dispatched to the scene of an accident.

During the FNOL process, the insurance company needs to know not only the extent of the loss, if possible, the cause. The extent of the loss enables the insurance company to apply its expertise in terms of guidance on next steps. If a delivery truck filled with perishables isn’t driveable, a salvage company may be in order to avoid a total loss of the product.

How the loss occurred positions the claims adjuster to rule out any insurance policy exclusions, or begin looking into other responsible parties involved.

The nature and extent of the loss can influence which claims office or claims adjuster will be assigned a newly reported claim. Some insurance companies have specialized teams based on customer, industry or types of events.

Customer experience first

While facilitating the capture of the needed information and offering guidance on next steps, any claim intake process needs to remember the customer is not a claims professional. This loss could be their first experience reporting a claim. Regardless of its actual severity, assume it is of great significance to the customer, not to mention a source of distress. Hence the importance of the FNOL experience being an empathic one.

Testing to balance customer experience with FNOL process needs It’s essential for insurance companies to adopt an “outside-in” approach to their FNOL process. Consider some experiments where you test out your company’s various claim intake channels across several dimensions:

  • Were you able to select the path to report your claim that you preferred?  Call centers are a key provider of FNOL services but odds are not every customer’s preferred path. Does your call center phone system offer the option to switch to a text-based process? Or schedule a call back if there’s a hold queue?
  • Did you feel like a customer or a stranger? Not all insurance companies have integrated their policy data to their claims process. But when a customer feels frustrated by having to convey information that their insurance company already has, the claim journey has started off at a deficit. While you may not be able to solve for an integration gap, you can explore automation solutions to personalize and streamline your customer’s experience.
  • Does the flow of information requested make sense? Take a moment to gauge the sequence of information requested - does it feel like how the average person would describe, say, a car accident?
  • Were the questions reasonable to ask and not hard to answer? The FNOL process is not intended to eliminate the need for subsequent interactions between the customer and the claims adjuster.Be careful to not push the downstream claim system data requirements onto the customer, if that information is not absolutely needed at the point of intake.

Use these survey results to create a scorecard. And from there a prioritized backlog of problems to solve or opportunities to improve. Your customers will notice and appreciate it.

Technology impact on FNOL

Technology continues to influence customer expectations for the claim intake process. Gartner predicts that customers expect to manage 85% of their relationships with enterprises without interacting with a human. And that by 2025, 80% of customer service organizations will have abandoned native mobile apps in favor of messaging for a better customer experience. According to AARP Research, the generation gap on smartphone usage and texting is narrowing. Smartphone adoption is 86% among Americans age 50-59, 81% percent for those 60-69, and 62% of those 70 and older. And 95% of seniors age 65+ send text messages weekly.

Ushur is staying ahead of the technology needs of insurance carriers when it comes to the FNOL process. Ushur’s ability to automate the FNOL process provides carriers with reduced processing times and operating costs. The customer experience can be improved through an 8x reduction in claim intake processing time no matter the time of day. Furthermore, Ushur’s Invisible App, powered by advanced AI delivers a strong FNOL automation solution at a 90% cost reduction. Combining improving customer experience with lowered operational costs is a win-win for any insurance carrier.

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