The claims vendor list is long – attorneys, medical professionals, auto-repair shops, contractors, medical case managers, and the all-important TPA. Not only are you spending good money for their services, these vendors represent your company. And both your reputation and your bottom line are at risk.

Too often, calling vendors claims “teammates” is more lip-service than reality. But if you can make vendors a true extension of your risk management team, you can both lower costs and improve customer service.

Quantitative measures – claims resolution costs, timeframes, closing rates, etc. – are certainly important. But it’s the qualitative factors that can make or break the relationship. Here’s how you can build a collaborative, cross-functional team that works well together.

  • Get to know vendors personally. Having a human connection paves the way to open communication and constructive collaboration. Meet the people who are working on your claims, and get to know them personally. A little old-fashioned rapport with who is on the other end of the line also makes it much easier to deal with any issues that do come up.
  • Establish clear expectations. Spell out realistic, clear, and concise instructions, and include all the right controls for response time, reserve increases, settlement authority, etc. And make sure the vendors’ employees are well trained in executing those instructions.
  • Hold vendors accountable. Vendors need to have skin in the game. Make sure they are hitting key metrics and are following your instructions. And know when to step in to keep things on track. It’s also important to monitor vendor performance to reduce claim leakage and expense on your bottom line.
  • Seamlessly integrate systems. The more vendors that can fully integrate with your system, the better. Direct data feeds eliminate the need to manually input data – which reduces human error, simplifies communication, and frees up staff for more valuable tasks.

Strong vendor relationships can balance workloads, control costs, and drive efficiency. Building up these vitally important relationships to the point where you are truly working together can yield impressive results all the way around. All for one and one for all!