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Automated phone systems 'a minefield'

Automated telephone systems – installed by many insurers to help streamline the claims handling process and now being adopted by several franchised dealer groups – are causing consumers lengthy and expensive delays, according to accident management firm Accident Exchange.

Based on nearly 6000 calls reporting accidents for customers, the company also found an alarming disparity in the speed it takes to speak to a human operator.

Accident Exchange chief executive Steve Evans says response time has worsened in the last 12 months. “With some insurers you've got time to make a cup of tea, drink it and wash up the cup while you wait,” he says, adding that the survey highlighted the “minefield” of automated phone systems.

“Reliance on these may be efficient for the insurers but that's far from the case for the policyholder,” says Evans. “It can be several minutes and several different options down the voice tree before you end up speaking to the wrong person and have to start all over again.”

The longest average waiting time in the June 1 to August 30 study was recorded by AXA at 16 minutes seven seconds. The shortest was from the independent Broker Direct network at one minute 51 seconds.

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