Five Questions With: Darla Finchum

Darla Finchum was recently named head of MetLife Auto & Home, the Warwick-based property and casualty business for insurance and benefits giant MetLife Inc., based in New York City. She had been serving in that position on an interim basis since August.

Before taking her current job, Finchum served as chief claims officer for MetLife Auto & Home. She joined the company in 2000 through its acquisition of the St. Louis Cos.’ personal lines business. Since then, she has held multiple roles of increasing seniority in the company’s claims organization.

Finchum has a master’s degree in business administration from the Keller Graduate School in Chicago and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Wisconsin Platteville.

 

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PBN: How would you describe the company’s operation in Warwick?

FINCHUM: MetLife Auto & Home is one of the nation’s leading personal lines property and casualty insurance providers. We insure nearly 4 million automobiles and homes nationwide. Our Warwick headquarters employs approximately 400 associates. The operations in Warwick house business functions, including sales, underwriting, claims, product management, analytics and technology. MetLife Auto & Home has nine additional offices across the U.S., with more than 2,900 employees on-site and in the field.

PBN: What does the company’s personal and small-business lines encompass?

FINCHUM: MetLife Auto & Home provides personalized protection to meet our customers’ needs and evolving lives. Our products include auto, homeowners, renters, boats, recreational vehicle, mobile home, personal excess liability protection/umbrella and bundled packages.

PBN: How did your experience as chief claims officer prepare you for your current job?

FINCHUM: My career has always been in property and casualty insurance. I’ve had the opportunity to work across the business over my career, including underwriting, sales, operations, service, and most recently as chief claims officer at MetLife Auto & Home.

When you look at claims within a property and casualty insurance company, it’s delivering on our promise to be there for our customers when they need us most. Claims is core to our customer experience and informs all aspects of our business.

The breadth of my previous experience has prepared me to lead MetLife Auto & Home, providing a deep understanding of property and casualty insurance, as well as a broad perspective of the business. These viewpoints are instrumental in my role driving smart, sustainable growth and transforming the business to meet the needs of today’s technology-focused consumers.

PBN: How does the company meet the needs of today’s technology-focused customers?

FINCHUM: We are focused on the [digitization] of our business to ensure we are not only meeting but exceeding customers’ expectations.

MetLife Auto & Home provides a personalized experience in which our customers can engage with us whenever, wherever and however they choose. Whether that’s over the phone, through our website and apps, or in person, we are dedicated to ensuring we provide the right guidance to our customers.

For MetLife Auto & Home, it’s a balance of leveraging the latest technology with the importance of the human connection. While [digitization] and speed are core to today’s customer experience, the human connection is important in insurance. Immediately after an auto accident, a customer may want to speak with a person at their carrier to verbally explain what happened, ask questions and receive reassurance the claim will be handled. Once the initial claim has been submitted, a customer may choose to only receive updates via email and/or the app, as they have confidence in us that the claim will be properly handled.

We are also consistently looking at emerging innovations that will add value to our business and enhance the customer experience. For example, claims adjusters utilizing drones to assess home and property damage after weather events [such as] hail storms. The technology ensures accurate estimates and can speed up the claims process.

PBN: What do you see as the main challenge facing the auto and/or home insurance industry?

FINCHUM: Today’s consumer is in the driver’s seat like never before, expecting to engage with businesses on their own terms and in their preferred channels. At MetLife Auto & Home, we are focused on putting the customer at the center of our business to ensure we are delivering products and coverage our customers need, as well as quality service and experience they want.

Scott Blake is a PBN staff writer. Email him at Blake@PBN.com.