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The first notice of loss (FNOL) is the critical first stage in the insurance claims process. It’s often the first contact a policyholder has had with the insurance company in a long time. It’s also the report that will define how the case will be handled going forward. Because of this, it’s critical that insurance companies send FNOL forms that are easy for customers to fill out wherever they are, but especially from mobile phones. Here, we’ll dive into ways to optimize the FNOL report with smart eForms.

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Characteristics of an Effective FNOL Report

Policyholders who are forced to fill out an FNOL report have usually just suffered from damage to an asset, such as their car or home. A typical policyholder at this stage is emotional, distracted, and may not have access to personal equipment. As a result, it’s important for FNOL reports to:

  • Be easy to submit via mobile phone: Property damage may mean the policyholder has no computer or printer access. With only a smartphone on their person, policyholders should be able to easily fill out the FNOL report from a mobile-optimized form.
  • Come with live agent guidance: It’s not everyday policyholders have to fill out an FNOL report. The average homeowner files a property claim every nine or ten years. The average car owner files a claim every 17.9 years. A friendly and knowledgeable agent should be available to answer any questions over the phone while the customer is filling out the FNOL eForm.
  • Ask the right questions: Dynamic eForms should hide or reveal questions based on policyholders’ responses to previous questions. This saves significant time and eliminates confusion.
  • Leverage autofill: The form should arrive to the policyholder prepopulated with already-known information about them, such as their name and address. If it’s in the CRM, it should be in the form.
  • Be secure: Customers should rest assured that their FNOL is sent back through a secure and encrypted session.

How to Maximize the Value of eForms for FNOL

While some insurers have moved on from basic electronic forms such as PDFs, they still suffer from challenges of poor completion rates, high error rates (NIGO documents), and prolonged cycle times. This is commonly a result of repeated questions, clunky formatting, and lack of integrations with related tools.

The best eForm vendors give far more value through functionality that is designed to eliminate these issues. The next-generation of eForms allows insurance providers to deliver personalized and intuitive FNOL reports. Here are a few of the top ways insurance companies can improve their FNOL reports with next-level eForm functionalities:

1. Auto-Filled Fields: For Giving the Policyholder a Head Start

All customers want to feel seen. Imagine the relief of a policyholder who receives the FNOL report already filled out with their name, address, date of birth, and other basic information. All this information is already in the CRM, and smart eForms can use data synchronization to extract it and auto-fill fields. This cements customer loyalty at a sensitive time, and speeds up the FNOL process.

2. Conditional Logic: For a Personalized FNOL Experience

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Claims agents needn’t fiddle around with endless variations of FNOL forms, figuring out which to send. A form embedded with conditional logic can hide or reveal fields depending on the customer’s response. For example, a customer who ticks off “car damage” may be shown a different set of questions than a customer who ticks off “property damage.”

Conditional fields rely on if/and logic, and can be used to gain more information about the incident without burdening policyholders with irrelevant questions. For instance, if the customer chooses “burglary” as the incident type, then show the question “Was the suspect apprehended?”

Conditional logic can also be used to trigger next steps in the process. This works well when the form is part of a larger unified platform including document collection, video/photo evidence collection, and so on. For example, a customer who ticks a box affirming they have filed a police report may be asked to digitally submit a copy of that document after submitting the FNOL form.

3. Multiple Field Types: For Multiple Question Types

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FNOL reports typically include questions about policy number, date and time of the incident, location of the incident, police report number, a personal account of how the incident occurred, and an eyewitness account. Some of these questions are better answered by free text, others by numbered items or a dropdown.

4. Segmented View of Sections: For Longer FNOL Reports

Some insurance providers may prefer to offer in-depth FNOL reports to gather as much information as possible for the claims adjuster. Smart eForms allow companies to provide a segmented view of sections and pages so that policyholders can easily make progress without endless scrolling.

5. Automated Workflows: To Keep the Ball Rolling

As mentioned earlier, FNOL forms are more effective when they’re part of a wider automated workflow. Insurance companies can adopt a single platform that includes ID verification, eSignatures, and photo and document collection. Depending on how the policyholder answers questions on the FNOL report, the system can automatically trigger requests for affidavits, supporting photo and video evidence, and photo ID. This saves the claims agent manual effort, and ensures that no piece of supporting documentation is forgotten.

The Bottom Line: Smart eForms = Smart FNOL Reports

Insurance providers that tap into next-level features in eForms can extract so much more from their FNOL reports — while saving agents and policyholders time and effort. The best eForm providers allow insurance companies to fully customize and automate their FNOL reports. With smart eForms, we can glide through the often-fraught first stage of the claims cycle.

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