In a nutshell
- Customer reviews can be tricky to navigate for insurance providers. While some are fair due to poor quality service, others – due to frustration over coverage, human error or failed attempts at fraud – are harder to rectify.
- For traditional insurers, whose customer service operates on a more local level, Google and Trustpilot reviews can be highly volatile.
- Insurtechs, on the other hand, have more control over global customer service and put more emphasis on providing high-quality SLAs.
Regardless of where you fall along the insurance value chain, we all receive a mix of good and bad customer reviews.
For legacy insurers, who are inherently local, customer reviews can be highly volatile – with some branches receiving much better feedback than others.
With insurtechs on the other hand, providing a unified customer experience across borders means that it’s much easier to get a better score – if you prioritise providing the best service.
That being said, there are some situations that are hard for any insurance business to avoid. After all, the need for insurance is due to a negative life event, so the stakes are already higher.
Read on as I reveal the truth behind some of our own poor reviews at Qover, and what if anything, we (and other insurance providers) can do about it.
The three types of insurance customer reviews
1. Customers who take their frustration out on the insurer
Let’s start with the bad reviews that are unjustified. We all get frustrated by customer service sometimes. With insurance in particular, customers have experienced something negative and are looking for a fix.
Unfortunately the reality is that we can’t always help them. And then there are also those who try to take advantage of the system.
I thought I’d share some real examples of negative reviews we’ve received that are along those lines. Of course it goes without saying that we treat all of our customers’ requests with respect and due diligence. So the goal here is not to make fun of anyone’s circumstances, but to illustrate some of our experiences.
Example 1: The one that’s not covered
In this case, we quickly reject a claim because it doesn’t meet the coverage requirements. While we might score 100% on our partner service level agreements (SLAs), the customer will complain that they’re not covered.
A classic example is that a customer’s bike was stolen because they didn’t take the right preventative measures. The bike was either outside with a very weak lock or unlocked inside in a public area such as a parking garage or building entrance – neither of which are covered cases.
Why is that? Due to the prevalence of bike theft, insurance companies require that bikes be locked to a fixed point in the ground with a high-quality lock. Otherwise, too many bikes would get stolen and insurers would ask a crazy high premium to cover their losses.
Let’s be clear: people that truly minimise and prevent risks should not have to pay more because others don’t do the same. Insurance is a concept of solidarity after all, so we should all be more cautious.
Despite the fact that these coverage requirements are very clearly communicated to customers at various points – in the bike purchase flow, their insurance contract, emails, etc – and even if we answer them politely and diligently, we’ll still get 1 star on Trustpilot.
In their mind, we’re to blame for refusing to cover their stolen bike.
While we certainly understand their frustration, this demonstrates the balance between price and coverage in the insurance industry. How many exclusions an insurance product has is not really driven by the insurance company itself, but by the willingness of the market to pay a higher price for more comprehensive coverage.
If we were to propose car insurance for 10,000 or 1,000, which would you choose? The lower price of course! That means insurers will have to make trade-offs and therefore end users will face more exclusions on their coverage.
Example 2: The one with the outrageous claim
Some people will claim anything and everything. We end up rejecting these types of claims because they’re absurd.
We have so many examples of this that we could write a book. But there are two – let’s just say, odd – situations that come to mind.
The first one is a customer who had home insurance with us. You know, insurance that protects your home and belongings in case of fire, flooding, earthquakes, etc.
In this case, the customer invited a friend to stay over after a big party where apparently they had both consumed lots of alcohol. The friend slept on the customer’s brand new couch – and accidentally defecated on the couch while sleeping.
The policyholder, who sent us graphic images of the incident, claimed that their fire insurance should cover the cost of a new couch. Clearly this situation is not covered, but they gave us an extremely negative review.
Another example is a customer who had ticket cancellation insurance via their credit card provider. You know, insurance that reimburses the price of a concert or event ticket in case you can’t attend due to an accident, death in your family, loss of job, etc.
This person had an appointment with a plastic surgeon for a breast augmentation. Unfortunately, she was unable to go to the operation due to a death in her family and she had to pay for the unused implants. They claimed that since they had a ‘ticket’ to go to the surgeon, it is an ‘event’ that is covered by their ticket cancellation coverage. This is clearly incorrect, so again we received a very low Trustpilot score.
Example 3: The one that smells like fraud
Fraudsters use anything they can to pressure the company into reimbursing them. The tough part about investigating a fraudulent case is that we avoid open communication with the customer until we’re 100% sure – which leads to repeated attempts to contact us and frustration at our lack of response.
There are countless instances where a claimant sends evidence of a broken smartphone for their purchase protection insurance that we trace back to Google – oftentimes it’s the first image that pops up when you search for ‘broken smartphone’. In another lack of creativity, we often get fake invoices that were created in a Word doc with the claimant’s name as the creator.
In most of these cases, the client will try to contact us several times while we gather evidence. Sometimes they tweet about their frustration or even randomly email our management team to try to elicit a response.
We’re aware that this tactic is intended to put pressure on the claim handler so that they might decide to pay rather than take the time to thoroughly investigate. And in the majority of these cases, whether we’re still investigating or whether we’ve told the claimant that we caught them trying to commit fraud, we’ll always get a poor rating on Trustpilot.
So what can insurers do about all this?
To reduce the amount of customers who are unhappy with their coverage, it’s important to create awareness that if people want to ‘pay peanuts, they’ll get monkeys’.
In B2B distribution, we can educate companies on the fact that the amount they’re willing to pay has a direct effect on the quality of coverage.
Still, as long as people are only looking for the cheapest price when it comes to insurance, there’s not much we can do. And, fraudsters are gonna fraud.
2. Customers who are right to be upset, but the issue was due to human error
We’ve talked about bad reviews that are unjustified, but about when they are?
Sometimes, poor customer reviews are warranted. In some cases it’s due to poor quality service (more on that later), but in many cases, the complaint involves human error on the part of the claim handler.
Let’s face it: claims are managed by human beings, which means that everyone makes mistakes, whether you work at a tech start-up or a large corporate insurer.
But rather than directly communicating with us to resolve the mistake, some customers are quick to give a 1-star review instead.
The life of an insurance claims handler is not an easy one. Claims happen because a real human being is suffering, whether for material damage or their health. Every claimant wants to be compensated as soon as possible, which means that claims handlers are under pressure to work as quickly as possible.
Not to mention that analysing the terms and conditions of an insurance product is extremely complicated. Even if we make them as simple as possible, insurance is still based on strict regulation, which leads to heavy legal documents that claims handlers need to parse through.
Dealing with this on top of multiple countries, products, cases and requests means that there will always be mistakes. Sometimes claims that should have been covered are refused; sometimes customers are reimbursed less (or more) than they should’ve been; and sometimes there are communication mishaps.
Here’s a recent example: one of our claim handles refused to cover a flight cancellation because the flight was taking off in a country outside of their place of residence. Trip cancellation is meant to cover cancellations made before leaving on holiday, with a clear exclusion for cancelled flights while the person is already on holiday (for example, if they wanted to extend their stay and rebook a new flight later on).
But in this case, the claim handler moved too quickly. It was actually a Belgian citizen who was taking off from nearby Amsterdam for logistical reasons.
Instead of complaining directly to our team, the customer took to Trustpilot and Google. Our team quickly picked up the complaint and reimbursed them, but the customer didn’t give us a chance to react first and we were still left with a low score.
Error is human. Our agents at Qover are humans, not robots; and we believe an open discussion is often the solution. We take low scores like this to drive internal improvements such as process changes, product enhancements and increased guidance for claims handlers.
But in practise, no two claims look alike. So as much as we try to improve, there will always be new cases and sometimes new mistakes.
3. Customers who are right to be upset because they got bad service
There are also reviews that are simply due to bad service.
This can be due to poor SLAs, a lack of them entirely or little incentive to fulfil them – which is usually a bigger problem for legacy insurers.
Insurtechs, on the other hand, have clear SLAs in place with their partners. On top of that, they also pay penalty fees if they don’t reach them, engage in real-time data sharing and focus on providing the best service possible.
At Qover, whether or not we reject a claim – which often results in an unhappy customer – what matters most for me is having best-in-class SLAs.
To that end, we have three mechanisms in place:
- Real-time transparency. Our partners have access to a dashboard where they can track our SLAs as green, yellow or red. Having full transparency creates accountability at all levels.
- Contractual obligations. This establishes a remediation plan in case we fail to meet our SLAs or perform poorly.
- Contractual indemnity fees for partners or even giving them the right to terminate a contract in case of repeated poor performance.
- Quarterly business reviews. We have routine check-ins with partners to evaluate all aspects of program performance, including SLAs, the claims experience, complaints, etc. – all with the goal of improving our service and contributing to our vision of creating a global safety net.
In my experience, many players refuse to hold themselves accountable in the same way.
So why do we do it? Because at Qover, we pride ourselves on building the best, tech-first processes to offer a top-notch customer experience. And if insurance is all about caring, as I believe it is, then we prioritise hiring people that will treat each case as if it were their own.
Both insurtechs and legacy insurers can fall prey to bad customer reviews. Some of them might be totally unfounded – such as in the case of someone trying to commit fraud or someone who’s simply not covered.
Other customers are frustrated due to natural human error or poor service.
In my experience, insurtechs have a better track record of being more customer centric, having more transparency on service and leaning into tech-forward processes with automation and AI to create a comprehensive customer service across borders.
And we’ve got 4+ stars on Trustpilot to prove it.