No one relishes the prospect of making an insurance claim. But when your business has found it impossible to recover a substantial overdue payment from a customer, it’s reassuring to know that trade credit insurance is there as a safety net.

Whether your organization is a mid-sized business or a multinational, our highly professional claims teams are on hand at that decision point to guide you through the process, evaluate the claim and indemnify you as swiftly and smoothly as possible.

To bring that process to life, we asked Bibi Komlan Eble, Claims Assessor at Allianz Trade North America, and Hans de Keijzer, Head of Claims and Collection at Allianz Trade World Agency – to highlight the different roles they play in the claims process and the peace of mind that their work brings to clients.

Hans de Keijzer,  
Head of Claims and Collection, Allianz Trade World Agency

Bibi Komlan Eble,  
Claims Assessor, Allianz Trade North America

“Trade credit insurance boils down to protecting the cash flow of our clients. When an invoice is well overdue and remains unpaid despite all attempts to collect it, having that insurance means clients know that, as specified in their policy, they will be paid,” says Hans.

As a senior manager overseeing a global claims team, he emphasize the speed, efficiency, and professionalism that Allianz Trade brings to each claim. “Our aim is to ensure our clients are informed that their case is all in order within five working days of it being filed. We want to immediately put them at ease about the coverage of their claim and guide them towards any outstanding actions they need to take, such as supplying any missing documentation or details,” he says.

That is where the team of claims assessors plays a critical part: “The role is about acting as soon as the claim is received, to review it and to give the client transparency about whether the claim is in order as set out in the policy and, if so, when they can expect to be paid,” he highlights.

As an experienced claims assessor, it is just that reassurance which Bibi seeks to convey: “We are always there for our clients – in person and online. Available to support and give answers to any questions they have and to provide regular updates as the claim progresses to payment,” she outlines.

The aim is to always treat every claim with both urgency and equal priority. The claims Bibi deals with each day may range from several thousands of dollars to more than a million. “To avoid any delay, every claim requires our close attention when it comes in – whether a large claim from a multinational or a small but significant claim from a local business,” she says.

That approach is perhaps most evident at Allianz Trade World Agency, the arm of the company dedicated to the global trade credit needs of large multinational clients.

 “We provide our clients with one international trade credit insurance policy, tailored to their needs. And my task from a central management perspective is to make sure that claims are assessed and dealt with in a standard way and to the same high quality regardless of whether a claim relates to non-payment in Europe, America or Asia,” says Hans.

Every market around the world has slightly different approaches to claims and debt collection. “The challenge for us is to make sure that we provide these customers with a stable, global solution that allows them to rely on the fact that a claim will be handled in exactly the same way anywhere,” says Hans.

The service may be consistent across the 55 countries where Allianz Trade has a presence, but the level of claims varies enormously.  “Some customers have hundreds of non-payment notifications going on at any one point and, even then, the number of transactions within a single claim can be very large. We also have clients who have yet to declare a single claim – and everything in between,” says Hans. He cites recent claims that range from €200 to €20 million.

To meet such demands, our claims assessors draw on in-depth knowledge and experience of claims processing within global and local legal and financial frameworks, as well as expertise in the daily trading practices of countless industries, backed by a rolling program of training that ensures they have all the skills and tools they need.

For Bibi, the fundamental skills center on attention to detail and the application of expertise. “As a claims assessor, you may have 10 claims coming in each day, but all 10 will be different. So knowing and understanding the policy of each is so important for success in this role.”

No matter the complexities, the requirement is to guide the client to a successful payment on their claim. Hans draws on one of his passions to illustrate the challenge: “My experience as a skipper [he captains a historic Dutch sailing ship in his free time] has taught me how to navigate changing situations. I’ve learned that you can’t always steer directly towards your goal: because of the direction of the wind, you might not reach your goal directly, but if you make smart turns, then you will get there.” The same goes for supporting clients’ claims.

That blend of expertise and customer-centricity makes our trade credit insurance stand out from competitive offerings, says Hans. “We’ve been strongly focusing for several years on paying out on time and that shows in the most recent Net Promoter Score from our brokers around the world who ranked us as number one in timely issuance of payments.”

The claims process is just one of many areas where we are also investing in the application of advanced technologies. “Artificial intelligence is proving particularly effective, for example, in helping claims assessors take the best decisions in the quickest possible times, as well as in fraud detection by flagging suspicious items,” he points out.

For Bibi, consistency of service also makes Allianz Trade a market leader. “What makes us stand out from competitive services is how consistent we are throughout the organization.” But she also points to more personal touches: “We always try to keep in mind that we want to treat our clients in the same, the way we’d want to be treated ourselves.”

That was even more important over the past year with the sharp rise in claims activity that resulted from the economic impact of Covid-19, says Bibi. “One thing I love about Allianz Trade – and the claims department in particular –  is that we all know how significant a claim is to our clients. So even when assessors saw claims volumes go from 10 to 40 a day during the Covid-19 crisis, we had the resources – and the strong team in place –  for us to be able to continue to provide excellent customer service.”

Part of that customer-focused approach is to provide guidance to clients at different points, so they don’t find themselves in the rare situation of their claim being rejected. Only about 4% of claims from our clients are declined – a number that defies many client expectations – and both Hans and Bibi have clear pointers to how to avoid that happening.

“My advice to clients is to always know your policy – even before you need to make a claim,” says Bibi. “Also, do not hesitate to consult your account manager to get a good understanding of what to do if you are ready to submit a claim.”

Timing is also important. There are clear limits, for example, on maximum extension periods and the timelines to file a State of Default Report.  “After the due date on the invoice passes, in general we expect clients to take 60 to 90 days to try to work things out with their customer before they declare a non-payment notification to us,” says Hans. “We establish mechanisms to explain to clients what to do and remind them to send us the appropriate documents in good time to ensure that they receive indemnification. But it is critical to get the initial claim in on time or request an extension period.”

“We never want a claim to be denied because it is filed late, but the fact is that lack of documentation received by us within the required timeframe is the most common reason that a claim is rejected,” highlights Bibi.

Hans has further advice for those anticipating that they might need to make a claim one day. “When you enter into any kind of trade, whether with a known customer or a new one, make sure everything is very well documented. Always get a contract signed before you make a deal and keep track of all your invoices, due dates and delivery notes, so as not to miss deadlines or lack the documentation as required in the policy,” he says.

“That helps avoid the need to file a claim in the first place, but if you do need to do so, then it helps us to assess it quickly – and give you the answer, ‘Yes, you’re covered’,” Hans outlines.

That highlights what makes the role of a claims assessor so rewarding. “The most fulfilling part of my job is being able to see and understand how everything at Allianz Trade works together,” says Bibi. “Clients might be unsure whether a claim will be successful. So, I love the fact that I’m able to put a smile on their faces (albeit at a distance) as their contact who can find a solution to an issue they might have with their claim or, if I can’t resolve it, to call on the extended team who can help.”

Motivation for Hans comes from a similar source. “It’s really about the people. I get great satisfaction every day from being in touch with our clients and brokers from different industries and cultures worldwide, and aligning them with our network of claims assessors, debt collection officers, risk analysts and underwriters.

“I take great pride in the fact that we support the cash flow of our clients by ensuring each one of their claims, backed by their policy, is paid out on time. And that brings peace of mind to our clients, right from the day they take out their policy.”