Getaway Day: Less Hassle = More Smart


By Kit Kiefer

You can be forgiven if you don’t pay much attention to insurance ads. You really can. It’s just that being in the business and all, I feel obligated to pay attention every now and then. Except for the Progressive ad where the clown flings himself onto the guy‘s windshield and leaves a nasty smear of clown makeup when he slides off. I change the channel on that one. Clowns creep me out.

Back to the topic. There’s been a spate of auto-insurance ads lately that crow about your newly granted ability to take a smartphone picture of your accident damage and upload it to your insurance company to start the claims process. Decreases the hassle factor, they say. Makes it easier for you to submit a claim and faster for you to get paid.

That’s something, but that’s really nothing. Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection has had the same thing for two years.

We call it “pic-and-a-click” claims submission, and it really does reduce the hassle factor in a business that for years has subsisted on the hassle factor, on making travelers submit every expense in writing, in triplicate, in the hopes that the traveler might, you know, slip up or forget something, or get frustrated and bail on the whole process. That way the insurance company might save a dollar or three.

Don’t get us wrong; BHTP is not a free lunch. If a traveler has a claim they still have to prove their loss. But the paperwork, the triplicate? Not necessary for most claims. A traveler can just take a picture of a receipt with their smartphone and send it to us. Assuming the receipt’s readable and their photo skills are a shade past nonexistent, that’s enough to start the process.

By doing this one little thing, by letting travelers start a claim with a pic and click, and by doing a few other little things along the way, we’ve been able to cut down our average claims processing time to a fraction of the industry average. What fraction? That’s a topic for another post. But suffice it to say the fraction isn’t 99/100ths. It’s a real fraction.

(And that doesn’t even take into account how quickly we pay claims, which is another real fraction, a fraction so small that we’re still working on the best way of calculating it. We’re marketers, not mathematicians.)


We’ll be honest: We didn’t invent pic and a click. Banks were doing it before us. Maybe you remember a Wells Fargo ad where the person took a smartphone picture of their check to deposit it. Same basic principle.

Even before that there was Cartwheel. If you spend much time in a Target store you know about its app that lets you scan barcodes with your smartphone and search for deals. A little further off-topic perhaps, but the same bone structure.

Listen, most of the great inventions don’t start from zero. They take existing technology and repurpose it – sometimes in a new and exciting way, but other times in a way that just makes sense. Pic-and-a-click claims just make sense.

So why don’t other travel-insurance companies do things our way? You’ll have to ask them. We don’t pay much attention to what they do. We’re a little too focused on doing things that make sense for travelers.

Author: Kit Kiefer

As content engineer for Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection, I have one of the world's great jobs. Not only do I get to write about travel, but I get to edit the work of fantastically talented contributors from around the world. Plus I get all the maple syrup I can drink.