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Make it easy — Lessons for the OIC

In claims, particularly motor claims, the need to communicate effectively with our opponent will be of increased importance in 2021.

‘If you want people to do something, make it easy’ — Professor Thaler, Nobel laureate economist and co-author of ‘Nudge: Improving decisions about Health, Wealth and Happiness’.

Thaler uses the principles of behavioural economics as evidence for the theory that in knowing how people think, we can make it easier for them to choose what is best for them, their families and society.

Since the failure of traditional economics to predict the global financial crisis of 2008, behavioural science (which can be very simply defined as the study of human behaviour) has grown in prominence to the point where many businesses, organisations and governments operate insights teams to assist them in behaviour-led problem solving and optimising processes. So how can these insights translate to your business and how can they be used to best effect in the ever-changing motor claims market?

One of the key areas in which we can effectively use behavioural science is in enhancing communication. In claims, particularly motor claims, the need to communicate effectively with our opponent will be of increased importance in 2021, with the emergence of the whiplash reforms and the anticipated rise in the number of unrepresented claimants entering the process. Also, for those with representation, there are likely to be a number of new entrants to the market, including CMCs.

In April 2021, a 64-page user guide was published to assist unrepresented claimants in using the Official Injury Claim (OIC) portal. Making their way through this new process and the extensive list of rules and practice directions underpinning it will represent a significant task for some and the courts will look to defendants to go further than before in order to assist them.

So how do we ‘make it easy’ for our opponents to do what we want them to do? To answer that question, let’s explore the cognitive processes of decision-making and communication for a moment.

Behavioural science insights tell us that when information is presented in a way that requires minimal thought, people use more of their System 1 thinking which is intuitive, instinctive and effortless. Contrary to this, if information is difficult to comprehend and people are forced to tune into their slower, analytical mode, or System 2 thinking, they will be more likely to feel overwhelmed and will be less predictable.

Therefore, communication that is truly effective provokes more System 1 thinking. We can do this by paying attention to the following simple rules:

  • Wording
    Use plain English, maximise the use of simple layman terms, minimise jargon and acronyms. Remember your audience and resist the urge to use legal or insurance terminology.
  • Tone
    There’s a fine balance between emphasising that something requires attention and it being perceived as threatening. Writing in a way that is helpful and empathetic, whilst still emphasising urgency, can lead to significant improvements in communication and efficiency i.e. improved timescale of response and therefore shorter claims lifecycles.
  • Highlighting
    We are more likely to do something that our attention is drawn towards. Use bullet points in emails and letters to effectively highlight salient points, whilst being mindful of tone in order to avoid overwhelming the audience. Always place the most important action points first on the list.
  • Chunking
    Chunking is a way of writing to make someone feel that a task is manageable, quick to complete and not too daunting. This can be achieved by using short lines, short paragraphs separated with white spaces, headings and grouping of related items together (this is an example!)

It’s an interesting notion that by looking through a behavioural science lens and choosing to simplify wherever possible, we can support, engage and achieve significant improvements in the efficiency of claims handling. Obviously, behavioural science has a much greater application than just in correspondence.

The Whiplash Reforms

We are on hand to support you with the challenges arising from the introduction of the whiplash reforms.

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