Kajal Vakas, Senior Manager of Claims, LexisNexis Risk Solutions, Insurance, UK and Ireland
Q. Tell us about your role at your firm. What do you do, and what do you find most interesting about it?
A. I am in the newly created role of Senior Manager of Claims here at LexisNexis Risk Solutions, Insurance. Everyone recognises that insurance professionals must walk the tightrope between providing empathy and efficiency, while keeping front of mind the millions lost by the industry to fraud each year. In my role, I work closely with claims professionals to help them with this quandary, identifying which data enrichment tools will benefit them. By evaluating and assessing the benefits of existing proprietary and third-party data sources that can be leveraged, from First Notification of Loss right through to claims settlement, we can help ensure that the right data insights play their part in expediting the claims journey.
Q. What are the challenges facing your business right now, and how are you working to overcome them?
A. The insurance sector has a huge appetite for more data and more insights, and this is both a challenge and an opportunity. Data has to be meaningful; it has to inform decisions at speed throughout the customer journey, and that means we have to be rigorous in data quality and integrity. This is our bread and butter at LexisNexis Risk Solutions, Insurance. We’ve been doing this for years in the underwriting and pricing arena, now we’re moving into the claims space where data enrichment is relatively untapped. Therefore, my own challenge is helping claims professionals understand the potential of data enrichment to smooth the claims process for all parties.
Another challenge is the fact that data can very easily exist in silo within a company. Does the travel policy team know that Mr Smith has just told the motor claims team he’s going on holiday in a couple of weeks? Part of my role is to help claims teams understand the value of the single customer view.
Meanwhile, on a more macro level, Insurer A might be handling a claim from a policyholder who has made fraudulent claims with Insurer B before. This is powerful intelligence for both insurance brands, but consider the value when both insurance providers are part of a bigger insurance group. Contributory databases have already worked in pricing and underwriting, now we’re launching a claims contributory database which has obvious benefits across all parts of the insurance journey.
Q. If you could go back to the start of your professional career, what piece of advice would you give to yourself?
A. When I first joined the insurance industry, I initially found myself accepting the status quo as I didn’t feel I was in a position to challenge it. A piece of advice I would give to myself would be to feel confident in my opinions and not be afraid to speak up or question existing processes or decisions made by those more senior than myself. I have been fortunate to work in collaborative environments where people are encouraged to come up with ideas and put them into practice. This is particularly true at LexisNexis Risk Solutions.
Q. What would be your prediction for the industry in 2022 and beyond?
A. With ongoing supply chain issues in the motor industry – firstly due to the pandemic and more recently global geopolitical events – a major challenge being faced at the moment involves supply of replacement vehicles. Insurance providers are going to have to think holistically about solving this issue. For example, rather than resorting to a traditional courtesy car, the industry needs to look more broadly at the question ‘how do I support my customer’s mobility?’ They could do this by using data to understand the customer’s mobility needs, even asking whether all customers want or expect a like-for-like car, or could solutions such as electric bikes or e-scooters work in some scenarios? With supply chain issues showing no sign of abating, insurance providers must continue to think more flexibly about their policies regarding replacement vehicle services. It starts with fully understanding the needs and preferences of the customer and their location to then proceed in offering appropriate options.
From a broader perspective, I see insurers capitalising on behaviour modelling to help make their customer’s life easier, and to benefit from cross-selling opportunities themselves. As the cost-of-living crisis means more people may shop on price alone, insurance providers will see the benefit of a more customer-centric approach to attract new business.
Q. What made you want to work in this industry?
A. Like many people working in this market, my insurance career has been a bit of a happy surprise. I started as a FNOL claims handler, and stayed on as I found insurance to be increasingly tech-lead and incredibly dynamic. I really appreciate the way the insurance industry can be affected at a macro level by economic, geographical and political tensions, but at the same time controlled to a certain extent by use of carefully chosen and integrated data.
Q. Thus far, what has been your most significant or proudest achievement in your current or previous roles?
A. Throughout my career I’ve always aspired to be a good public speaker, but lacked the confidence and would often miss opportunities as I was too nervous. However, thanks to the encouragement and guidance from more experienced colleagues, I persevered and now relish the speaking opportunities coming my way. One of my proudest moments was speaking on an internal webcast with over 1000 attendees and coming away knowing I’d done really well.
Q. How would you like to see the insurance industry improved over the next five years?
A. As well as increasing the use of behaviour modelling to make the industry more customer-centric, I would like to think that in five years’ time, data enrichment at claim is pretty much standard practice, with insurance providers achieving the right balance between automation of FNOL and delivering a personal service to those customers who need it.
I am also excited by the idea of Open Insurance and the way this could lead to some great new innovations in product design.
At a more personal level, I would also love to see more women coming into the insurance market. The gender gap is improving but we are still in the minority, and I think a lot of this comes down to how insurance jobs are advertised to attract people like me to the sector.