Group Claims Manager Petra Lucioli recently talked to ANZIIF Writer Anna Game-Lopata on the reasons she moved to start-up Delta five years ago, the expanse of her current role and plans for the future:
Five years ago, Petra Lucioli left a comfortable position managing portfolios of liability claims to join a start-up Lloyd’s Coverholder, Delta Insurance based in Auckland, New Zealand.
A BIG BREAK
‘It was a fantastic challenge and opportunity,’ Lucioli shares. ‘I got to set up a claims team in exactly the way that I wanted and to craft it from scratch. Being able to put my vision into practice was brilliant.
‘I already knew a number of the people who were coming to Delta and how good they were,’ she adds. ‘The opportunity to work with some really good people was just too good to pass up.’
Lucioli, who has nearly 20 years’ experience in liability claims management, began her career as a litigation lawyer in the UK before moving into the London insurance market as a claims manager handling professional liability risks.
KNACK FOR SOLVING PROBLEMS
She originally went into law because she liked problem solving but found civil litigation a bit one dimensional although she enjoyed it.
‘All you were doing was handling the cases that came along so I moved into industry because I wanted a much wider range of projects and activities.
‘Claims management was exactly what I was looking for because it involved problem solving and decision making as well as direct control in terms of where claims are going.
‘Having found my niche that’s where I stayed.’
A SYSTEM BUILT FROM SCRATCH
At Delta Insurance, Lucioli started as claims manager, but her role has grown in complexity due to the relatively small size and youth of the organisation, which boasts a team of just 30 all up.
‘I am basically the head of technical operations and director of our technology business DIMS Limited.
This includes setting strategies around and project managing the development of our in-house underwriting and claims system as the broader international group businesses grow,’ she explains.
Lucioli, who led the original design and implementation of Delta Insurance’s claims and underwriting platform from scratch, says it’s the achievement she is most proud of to date.
‘We’ve developed it in a very lean way, on the basis of complete user focus,’ she says.
‘So, we started with the users and what they wanted and needed and then we developed the platform around them. It’s very much user-led rather than developer-led.
‘We ended up with a system that both our underwriters and our claims team all say is the best they’ve ever used and being able to do that on a shoestring budget has been a great achievement.’
DOUBLE ROLE OF TECHNOLOGY
Lucioli, who is a speaker at the 2019 ANZIIF Claims Seminar in Auckland, says technology is front and centre at Delta Insurance.
‘We see technology as having two functions, one is to improve efficiency and remove administrative costs and the second is to improve the overall experience of the customer, especially at claims time.
‘In general, people are wanting to engage through different channels, so developing technology to allow them to do so in the way they want is the key to our claims strategy,’ she says.
‘There should be any number of routes in (to us) whether it’s in person, by phone or text messages or through an app or Facebook if necessary.
‘Developing that functionality helps reduce cost and improve customer outcomes.’
In terms of claims transformation in the industry, Lucioli says service standards are an issue but the main challenge for the industry will be to address the huge gap in understanding between what customers think their policy covers and what it actually covers.
‘Fundamentally the process starts way before a claim,’ she points out. ‘Insurers have to focus on their customer needs and preferences.
‘First of all, they need to ensure that a customer’s cover is tailored to their needs and secondly, that the customer understands the extent of their cover when they take it out.
‘That way, when a claim is made, the customer already has a clear understanding of what to expect and what may and may not be covered.’
THE HUMAN COMPONENT
She says technology can help by ensuring that insurance products can be more easily tailored to customer needs so that at claims time, they’re much more likely to get the claims response they expect.
‘We can use technology to help the process become smoother and faster but at the claims end there’s a huge human component.
‘Claims professionals deal with people at times of crisis and making sure their interactions are empathetic and that they’re actually listening to the customer is just as important as the speed and efficiency of settlement.’
TIME IS RIGHT FOR EXPANSION
With big growth plans both domestically and overseas, Lucioli has two key challenges ahead.
‘One is further growing our international claims capabilities,’ she shares.
‘We’ve got an office in Singapore servicing our broader strategic reach into Asia and we’re likely to expand our expertise beyond that, so dealing with those new jurisdictions is going to be a real challenge.’
Making sure that Delta’s technology platform is flexible enough to cope with the new markets it’s will be the second test.
‘When we first started, our platform was very much focused on liability products,’ Lucioli says.
‘Since then, we’ve expanded into property insurance, so we’ve had to adapt the platform to cope with that.
‘As we go forward into the new markets, we’ll have to get the system to cope with whatever the future throws at us.
‘So far so good with Delta Singapore and Delta Property being successfully using the technology since 2017.’
NEVER STOP INNOVATING
Lucioli says the organisation is always looking for interesting new ways of using technology.
‘One thing we’re currently focusing on is connectivity between our system and outside sources of data,’ she reveals.
‘At the moment, we’ve got a project which aims to create a connection between our underwriting system and a cyber breach monitoring tool which will give us access to a source of cyber breach data.
‘We’ll be able to automatically advise potential customers obtaining a quote about whether their domain name and email address have been breached and if their credentials have been sold on the dark web.
‘That will mean we can take the information into account when underwriting, but also we’ll be able to provide solutions and risk management steps to people even before they’re insured with us.’
LATEST IN CLAIMS TECHNOLOGY
At the 2019 ANZIIF Claims Seminar in New Zealand, Lucioli covered off on the claims technology space at a macro level, including updates on developments in the key areas of artificial intelligence (AI), the internet of things (IoT) and blockchain.
She was also very keen to impart an understanding of how claims professionals can get involved in the decisions that are made about which technologies their employers should adopt.
‘There tends to be this feeling that technology solutions are imposed by senior managers,’ she observes.
DRIVING COMPANY DECISIONS
‘I’m a huge advocate of getting people on the ground to help to drive those decisions because they’re the ones who know what’s going to be useful and what’s not in terms of technology solutions.
‘If you can give people the tools to understand how decisions are made, you can them invested in helping their companies develop their technology.’
Ultimately Lucioli’s take on claims management is that it’s all about the people.
‘There are certain ways you can automate the process and smooth it out, so I hope to see technology freeing claims professionals up from tedious administrative tasks so that they can focus on connecting with the customers.’