A better experience makes for happier customers
As the sister company to U-Haul, Repwest Insurance Company focuses primarily on insuring customer items in U-Haul trucks, trailers, and storage units. With so many U-Haul trucks on the road every day, accidents will happen. Damage also can occur at storage sites, and customers want to quickly replace damaged belongings. “In the customer’s mind, the clock is ticking,” says Shaun Birnbaum, Investments Manager at Repwest. “When a customer experiences a negative event, shortening the time frame to get money in hand helps to improve the customer experience.”
Birnbaum was familiar with how payment alternatives like PayPal and Venmo make it fast and simple to move money between people. Taking that concept, he started thinking through how faster payments could apply to the insurance claims process not only to improve customer satisfaction but also to close claims more quickly – a common insurance industry KPI.
Repwest chooses Zelle and transforms the customer experience
Zelle payments proved to align with Repwest’s objectives. The company approached changing its process in three steps.
1. Selecting a faster payment method best aligned with business strategy
As an insurer Repwest is focused on reducing its risk. The company considered using Same Day ACH but had concerns about adjustors taking claimants’ bank account numbers by phone. Repwest wanted to help limit the risk of errors associated with information collection while still be able to pay a claimant quickly.
Zelle allows the use of an email address instead of a bank account number to send money electronically. This helps mitigate risk of mishandling sensitive customer account information. Using an email address as a token lets Repwest pay its claimants simply, quickly and conveniently.
2. Gaining key stakeholder buy-in
Accounting is a primary stakeholder when implementing any new payment process. Birnbaum, who also is heavily involved in Repwest’s accounting function, immediately saw the value of Zelle to provide faster payouts to claimants, lower payment costs, and the ability to close claims sooner.
IT needed to be closely involved to ensure there weren’t any technical or integration issues. Despite limited resources and the need to prioritize its focus, IT came onboard after a just few discussions about the business case for change. A key selling point was the understanding that IT’s up-front effort would provide long term benefits. At the same time, because Zelle payments are part of an automated process, the IT team would not have any hands on involvement post-implementation.
Adjusters were another important constituent in implementing the new payment process. They work with claimants, including handling communication around payment. It was vital to consider the experience from both the customer and adjuster perspective, making sure it would be easy to implement and that Zelle would be encouraged as the primary form of payment instead of checks.
3. Transforming the payment process
Repwest mainly uses checks to settle claims, which can be a slow, costly and frustrating experience for customers and the claims adjustors, who serve as the primary customer interface. First, there’s the hassle of printing and mailing a check. There is also the potential challenge of incorrect addresses on file for customers who have recently moved. When payees don’t receive their checks, claims adjustors must update addresses then void and reissue checks. Escheatment can also consume time and resources with uncashed checks.
How Zelle improved the claims payment experience
- Quicker. Checks payments often took weeks to get into customer hands. Zelle payments typically take a day or slightly longer, depending on factors like if the claimant is registered to receive Zelle payments.
- Easier. Adjustors communicate with customers throughout the claims process. That makes it simpler to collect and verify the email address tied to Zelle payment as a token. Then it’s just a matter of offering claimants Zelle as a speedier payment option.
- Cheaper. The cost of the B2P payment is significantly less expensive at roughly 20% less per transaction.
Repwest is aiming for 100% payment by Zelle for eligible claims. Since implementing Zelle with Wells Fargo in September 2017, Zelle volume relative to checks continues to rise 45% of all eligible payments.
Payment speed is now a differentiator for U-Haul customers. “In the claims business you’re dealing with people who are upset or angry having just gone through an event and loss,” says Birnbaum. “Getting the money into their hands faster makes things a little easier in a difficult personal situation. This payment solution is a way to make people happier.”
For more information, contact your Wells Fargo representative or fill out the Contact Us form on this site.