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ACIL Advocates for Industry Action to Address Empathy Gap After Flood Inquiry

The management of insurance claims with empathy has come under the spotlight during the Inquiry into insurers’ responses to the 2022 major floods claims. Both parliamentary committee members and consumers have voiced significant frustration over the perceived lack of empathy shown by insurers during the claims process.  In response to these criticisms, ACIL recommended to the Australian and New Zealand Institute of Insurance and Finance (“ANZIIF”) the development of a course focused on empathetic claims management.

In response, the ANZIIF has launched a new Empathetic Claims Management short course. This initiative aims to address the gaps identified during the Canberra Inquiry. Katrina Shanks, CEO of ANZIIF, expressed her hopes for the course, stating, "We are hoping this course is well received by the insurance sector as we endeavour to understanding current concerns and issues in the sector and provide relevant and timely professional development to the sector to ensure we are all working together to obtain good consumer outcomes."

Empathy in claims management is also a focal point in the recent review of the General Insurance Code of Practice. In its submission, ACIL highlighted that "recognising and addressing consumers' emotional and situational needs not only enhances their experience but also reduces conflicts." Proposing an empathy standard for the Code, ACIL advocates for insurance interactions to be conducted with heightened understanding and care, emphasising that empathy is crucial during crises, such as property loss or accidents, as it profoundly affects consumer satisfaction and trust. An empathetic approach can transform potentially adversarial situations into supportive experiences, thereby fostering trust and reducing disputes.

ACIL recommended the inclusion of empathy standards and the introduction of mandatory empathy training for insurance professionals in the Code.

ACIL Chairperson, Tyrone Shandiman, who is also the Managing Director of Strata Insurance Solutions, remarked on the critical role of empathy in the claims management process, especially in highly traumatic scenarios or where consumers face financial hardships and vulnerability. “In my own business at Strata Insurance Solutions, we frequently encounter clients involved in highly traumatic events requiring empathetic handling. Just last month, we managed a particularly distressing claim involving a fatality, which necessitated working closely with the insurer to expedite property repairs," Shandiman shared. He stressed the importance of adequate training for claims staff to handle such sensitive situations effectively.

Sue Shandiman, the claims manager at Strata Insurance Solutions and mother to ACIL Chairperson Tyrone Shandiman, recently completed ANZIIF's one-hour Empathetic Claims Management course. Reflecting on her experience, Sue noted the practicality of the course, stating, "The training provided practical learning outcomes that are immediately applicable in scenarios that demand empathy. It's a vital resource for claims managers striving to improve their handling of sensitive situations."

For those interested in enhancing their claims management skills with a focus on empathy, the course is available via this link: 

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