Innovation and trends in the Personal Injury space

Last updated on February 24, 2022 
A purely medical-based approach to personal injury has given way to one that is more human-centred. An increased awareness of the impact of mental health in the workplace has played a decisive role.

Mental ill-health is generally understood to have a serious impact on workers and on the productivity of workplaces. But it’s difficult to fathom the true size of that impact.

According to the Actuaries Institute Mental Health and Insurance: green paper (PDF, 2.61MB), mental health is now the leading cause of work absence and long-term work incapacity in the developed world.

The effect of mental health is so great, that if all employers could ensure their workplaces were mentally healthy, they could realistically see workforce participation rates improve by 30 per cent.

Kelly Lemke, Senior Manager, Claims Innovation at Allianz, says there’s a clear link between personal injury claims and workplace mental health.

“Our claims data shows that the average cost of an active psychological claim is 3.5 times that of an active physical claim,” she says.1 “The financial implications are clear, but it’s often the social cost that is untold. As part of the personal injury ecosystem it’s our job to ensure we’re improving people’s lives and contributing to sustainable schemes and thriving communities.”

Kelly Lemke headshot

Kelly brings a thought leadership perspective to many of the mental health programs and services we initiate with our customers. She also works with our HR managers to ensure staff have access to services and opportunities that can help safeguard their mental health.

Kelly believes it’s important that we can put our hands on our heart and say ‘What we’re saying is what we’re also doing’.

“We’ve done some innovative things internally with our own people, but a large part of my role is isolating areas where changes in the way we’re doing things or new ways of thinking could make a positive difference to our customers,” Kelly says.

The personal injury space is complicated and highly regulated. As a result, a key aim of Kelly’s – and of Allianz broadly – is to simplify personal injury as part of a process of continuous improvement.

“Simplifying personal injury can mean everything from streamlining the claims experience through to developing a new product or service,” she explains.

“We might use behavioural insights to inform the way we communicate to improve how we interact with our most vulnerable customers. At a more operational level, it could mean introducing technology in areas such as triaging low-risk claims.”

Two prominent themes have guided the development of the personal injury claims space and will continue to do so – a trend towards technology and the adoption of a holistic view of people’s wellbeing.

“We’ll see wider adoption of things like predictive analytics to manage complex risk and improve claims outcomes,” Kelly says.

Technological advancements present a huge opportunity to engage with customers in a way that gives them autonomy and control.

“We’ve already piloted the use of a digital claims assistant, so no doubt we’ll see a bridging of the gap between what is a very human-centred service and the digital,” adds Kelly.

Organisations that are managing people’s wellbeing best are looking holistically at all the factors that can influence and contribute to someone’s mental wellbeing.

“It’s not merely about minimising the psychological risk to an individual – it’s providing opportunities for them to thrive personally and professionally. It means no longer looking at things in isolation – things like mental health education, workplace culture and job design, such as allowing flexible work practices, are all important.”

Data and technology may be at the forefront of innovation in claims management. But Kelly believes the sector must invest in the capability of its people, so that they’re well equipped to provide effective claims management service. “Human capability must underpin any innovation,” she explains.

Kelly is also a huge advocate of an empathetic approach to personal injury.

“We’ve seen a shift from what was traditionally a legislative approach to claims management to one that is much more human-centred and holistic,” she says.

“Ultimately, we try to give people ownership over their recovery journey,” Kelly says. “We deal with some of our most vulnerable customers. We need to do that with empathy – they need to be understood, supported and protected.”

1 Allianz Workers' Compensation claims data comparing the 2019/20 (July-2019 to June-2020) and 2020/21 (July-2020 to June-2021) years as at the end of each year from a representative portfolio of Allianz Australia Underwritten insurance. Note: Statistics from Allianz Australia’s own data on incidence and cost of mental health in the workplace, relating to workers' compensation. The data has been taken from one data set – the Allianz Workers' Compensation Underwritten insurance portfolio – which covers workers' compensation claims across the privately underwritten states and territories of Australia.

This article has been prepared by Allianz Australia Insurance Limited ABN 15 000 122 850 AFSL234708 (“Allianz”). In some cases, information has been provided to us by third parties and while that information is believed to be accurate and reliable, its accuracy is not guaranteed in any way.

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