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The quality of claims service can make or break the satisfaction of insureds—and the reputation of insurers. After all, if policyholders are unhappy with the level of support they receive when making a claim, there's nothing stopping them from taking their business elsewhere when it's time to renew.

While some insurers consider claims simply a business process, Nationwide E&S believes there's much more to it than that.

“For us, it's about a relationship—not a transaction,” says John Ilgen, Director of Property Claims at Nationwide E&S/Specialty. “The fundamental basis of our existence here is to help our insureds.”

Why quality matters

When general agents partner with an insurer, it takes more than price and product for them to be competitive in the market. In addition to being the right thing to do for customers, providing excellent claims service is also a boon to general agents looking to gain an edge over the competition.

Ilgen notes that when Nationwide sells an insurance policy, it is selling a promise to provide exceptional service through the duration of the policy, including when the time comes for a policyholder to make a claim. In fact, sometimes the only interaction an insured will have with the insurer is when they are making a claim. The fact is, insurers are judged by the level of service they provides when customers need them most.

“Our product is claims service,” Ilgen explains. “We help our insureds rebuild their lives, and when we do this, we're fulfilling our promise.”

In other words, unparalleled claims services helps bring in customers—and keeps them over the long run.

The claims experience at Nationwide

Nationwide E&S's claims experience is designed around the singular goal of helping insureds in any way possible with a specialized and compassion approach. When insureds submit a claim, the first thing they will hear is a voice on the other end of the line asking if they are safe.

Listening is key to the claims experience at Nationwide, and the claims associate will ask the policyholder questions about what happened and how they were impacted by the event.

“The most important thing we can do is hear their story and explain every step of the claims process,” Ilgen says. “This helps us build trust and rapport, which is important whether the claim takes days, weeks or months to conclude.”

Then the claim is thoroughly reviewed before being sent to the appropriate team so they can follow up with the insured.

“If the claim is for a house fire, it will get sent to the property claims team, and if it's for a slip and fall, then it would go to the casualty team,” says Ilgen. “The nature of the event determines which claims associate will handle the claim.

By having highly specialized claims teams, Nationwide is able to call upon the team members who are best equipped to navigate the unique circumstances around each claim. In addition to dedicated service areas, claims associates have different levels of experience, too, and the most seasoned professionals are available to handle the most complex, high-exposure claims that come in.

“This result of this tailored approach is a more effective and efficient level of customer-focused service,” says Ilgen.

A culture of continuous improvement

Nationwide keeps its claims service top-tier with a robust and centralized onboarding training program for new claims associates and leaders. As they settle into their roles, they undergo ongoing training and professional development, so they continue to grow their expertise as claims professionals.

“We give them all the support they need to do their job and take care of our customers,” says Ilgen.

On top of that, Nationwide is continually monitoring the customer experience to measure the quality of claims service it provides and create goals for ongoing improvement.

“That's how we get stronger, faster and better at what we do,” he adds.

Over the years Nationwide has added newer technology to modernize the claims experience and provide insureds with a seamless way to stay informed about their cases.

Relationships are at the heart of the E&S business, and Ilgen feels a deep responsibility for taking care of Nationwide's insureds.

“What we do matters. We change people's lives, and we take that very seriously” says Ilgen. “We're very proud of that.