12 Oct 2020

Looking back on 1 year since the Cobalt launch

One year on from the launch of Cobalt, Mark Avery, Head of Project & Implementation at Cobalt looks back on the unexpected events of the last 12 months and what is coming through the pipeline next for Cobalt.

How has the pandemic affected Cobalt?

It has certainly disrupted some of our plans and that has meant projects which were in the pipeline have been delayed. In the main it’s been a case of reallocating resources to address the most important issues.

With less driving during lockdown there were significantly less claims but because of other pandemic related challenges the claims we handled required greater care and time to ensure things went smoothly. We closely monitored network availability for repairs, lead times were longer and some garages were closed. As we know this was over quite a long period so it did mean our team were kept busy. All our supply chain remained open in some capacity, it was just a case of giving greater oversight to the whole process and trying to spot problems before they caused delays. That is an important USP for Cobalt, to pre-empt delays, or to ensure that decisions are taken with the right information so that it doesn’t create more work further down the line.

One of the issues we handled was that of disrupted parts supply chains. We quickly noticed that work was getting stuck due to lack of parts and set up an interim parts sourcing service. We offered this out to anyone who had work delayed because of parts shortages and managed to connect available parts with garages and insurers who needed them. We know we helped some key workers as a result and that was a good and right thing to do.

What do you think will be the long term effects of the pandemic on Cobalt?

We are probably not yet at a point of looking at long term impacts. The impacts haven’t yet passed and we are mindful that things can change quite quickly still. That’s not to say we’re not optimistic! We’re here for our customers and their policyholders and we know what we need to do to keep claims moving.

Another Cobalt USP is how we assess accident damage and our ability to increase the utilisation of smart repair options like mobile repairs and midi sites – those you might see in a supermarket car park - rather than the traditional repairer. With many more people at home or working from home the option to book a mobile repair increases and we’ve seen some customers more comfortable with this option that having to take their car to a garage. It’s too early to say how long this trend may last but for efficient, cost effective and convenient repairs it’s great to see mobile and midi options providing alternatives.

I think we are going to see a big upsurge in pay per mile and temporary insurance schemes as people review how they are using their vehicles. Fortunately from a claims handling perspective the system we use can deal just as easily with this as it can with annual policies. It also allows us to spawn claims files for any part involved in the incident so we can recognise different rights to claim for the vehicle owner, driver, passengers, which I think will be important if people are loaning cars rather than owning.

Beyond the day to day I expect there will be implications from the economic pressures the pandemic has caused. Insurers and policyholders may be trying harder to avoid writing off, or even repairing vehicles and cash in lieu payments might become more common as people look to retain their vehicles and source repairs themselves.

What are you currently working on?

Cobalt integrates broker and insurer claims very well and that’s been a growth area for us recently. Some of the challenges of recent months seem to be driving insurers to seek more efficiency in their claims operations, and removing any sole supplier dependencies. Cobalt is well placed support this as we are linked to Coplus, one of the largest broker FNOL providers in the UK. Where Coplus is providing the FNOL service it ties in so well with Cobalt coming into work on the insurer’s behalf. We can do this in a number of ways such as providing ‘wrap around’ claims handling to the insurer as an out of hours service, deploying accident damage cases into the insurers network or our own supply chain, and also providing third party services.  Because we are very flexible with how we operate and with such a big stake in the broker market this does fit well with the efficiency and savings insurers are looking for at the moment.

What will we see from Cobalt in the coming year?

We have some exciting things to finalise which will provide real alternatives to the current claims and accident damage management market. Flexibility is really important to us as we recognise that all of our partners want solutions that fit their business model. We want to give choice in how things are done and allow our partners to use our triage and decision making capabilities in the best way for their businesses. I won’t say anymore just yet but watch this space!

The core strengths of Cobalt are built upon the way in which Coplus has always handled claims – first call resolution; quick liability decision making to place a claim on the correct path; and true 24/7 FNOL coverage. These core strengths, coupled with the technology and people we have, will see Cobalt grow from strength to strength.


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