Grace Hanson joined Hippo Insurance as the company’s first chief claims officer in January 2022. Previously, she was the chief claims officer at Hiscox, and before that, she worked in similar positions at several insurers, including Homesite Insurance and AIG. Claims magazine recently had the opportunity to ask Hanson about what she sees ahead for the industry, her focus at Hippo and about some of the individuals who have made an impact along her insurance journey.
What do you see as the top three issues insurers should be focusing on now?
As consumers become familiar with digital technologies and services, their expectations for more convenience and flexibility will push innovation to occur across our industry. Technology has been around for many years; however, the insurance industry has been slow to adopt it. A combination of new technology, copious amounts of data, and an increased focus on customer service should be at the top of the list for insurers as they strive to modernize their business.
Data has also become increasingly relevant to how insurers can effectively manage their end-to-end systems. Those insurers who invest in their own technical infrastructure will be able to layer in new data sources that cater to customer expectations. Companies like Hippo bring in data across various touchpoints of the customer journey, from the point of purchase all the way through to claims, delivering a holistic experience.
Finally, insurers should capitalize on the claims experience rather than treating it as a discreet road stop for their customers. By doubling down on areas like customer-friendly policy language and when and how to use data and human engagement to provide more tailored and efficient experiences, insurers can help put their customers at ease.
Hippo is using technology in new ways to create products for customers and help them have a more positive homeownership experience. How is this approach changing the claims process and benefiting your customers?
Hippo is all about protecting the joy of homeownership. We view the claims process as a highly critical touchpoint in our customer journey, and it’s important that it feels like a seamless part of the holistic experience we offer. We’re continuing to invest in new technology that leverages data in an effective way from the point of sale all the way through to claims. Just as Hippo has done with its wide array of proactive services for the home, our aim is to bring a proactive approach to claims as well. At Hippo, I’ll be focused on ensuring that the claims journey is simple, as enjoyable as possible and differentiated from what others have experienced and continues to push the bar of what’s possible to improve overall customer satisfaction.
You have significant experience with insurance technology and claims management. How will your role as Hippo’s chief claims officer allow you to blend that knowledge and transform the claims experience for your customers?
Throughout my career, I’ve been on the front lines exploring and implementing new technologies and digital services across startups and legacy insurers. Through the experience I’ve gained, I’ve seen the advantages of integrating data and digitization into the claims journey.
It’s important to recognize that not all insurance companies are created equal. Understanding a company’s unique business model will make a tremendous difference in choosing what’s needed to design an ideal end-to-end claims experience for your customers. Hippo brings a unique combination of technology, data sources, and services into its customer journey, and I look forward to building an end-to-end claims experience that marries its proactive approach with digital enablement.
Where would you like to see the claims industry in five years?
The industry has recently taken a more serious look at the benefits of integrating digitization and technology into the claims process. The companies who accept that the old ways of doing business are changing will be the next crop of industry leaders as they aim to better serve and proactively solve problems for their customers. I expect to see the insurers who grow their use of technology, integrate new data sources, and leverage the power of automation with human enablement eventually outpace their competitors. This will undoubtedly result in a continuation of consolidation and acquisitions of the niche tech companies that certain insurance companies are increasingly relying on.
The number of claims professionals expected to retire in the next few years is significant. What skill sets should the next generation of professionals be developing?
The industry is shifting along with the skills and expectations of the professionals who make up the claims world. More often today, we see the need for adjusters to be customer-facing, strongly technical, and have a knack for understanding how to leverage complex systems.
I would encourage rising professionals to not settle for the status quo. Be a leader in identifying what does and does not work for your company. Do not be shy about bringing forward new technologies or new ways of thinking about a problem.
As we become more efficient and companies increase their use of automation, don’t shy away from the power of people in our industry. We are, first and foremost, one of the first calls after homeowners experience a household emergency. A caring ear will always go a long way.
Who have some of your mentors been throughout your career?
I’ve had many great mentors throughout my career who were willing to give me the autonomy to grow and shine in various roles. I also worked to emulate my growth and trajectory based on admired figures throughout the business world. For instance, I have deep admiration for former IBM CEO Lou Gerstner. He was fascinating in that he came into IBM from Nabisco and is widely credited for saving the company. He penned “Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance” about his journey into a field he knew little about. He demonstrated that the power of possibility was everywhere if you knew how to seek out the right opportunities and create value.
What are some of the biggest misconceptions about the industry?
The biggest misconceptions often come from those who are deep within the insurance industry and lack the ability to see what our industry has the potential to become as technology evolves. Things like quantum computing and natural language processing are already exceeding human accuracy rates, and it’s only a matter of time until we see real disruption. Insurtechs lead the way in terms of their willingness to be open to deploying new technology solutions in their businesses, creating an incredible capacity for insurance to evolve.
What was the most valuable piece of advice anyone has ever given you?
Never give up learning. There will always be someone out there who can do it better, more efficiently, or in a newer way. Your openness to new talent, new perspectives and new ideas will make you a better professional, teammate, and friend.