How Clayton Matthews Led Oakbridge’s New Claims Department Through a Trial by Fire
Georgia-based Oakbridge Insurance was founded in late 2020, the product of four established brokerages coming together to create a new entity with the customer service of a regional firm but the clout of a national one.
The venture quickly took off, but Oakbridge’s fresh organizational structure in combination with its overlapping legacy claims processes looked to be a looming obstacle in its plans for rapid growth. Thus, Oakbridge began its search for someone who could unify its competing claims protocols across 30-plus offices into a streamlined yet scalable solution.
Enter Clayton Matthews, an industry veteran who spent years on the agency side before moving to claims. Upon joining Oakbridge in May of last year, Matthews began by listening to each stakeholder’s needs, then personally overseeing each of the existing claims processes until he could structure a new one.
“Clayton has been able to seamlessly integrate the processes of each of our offices into our claims operating system,” said Oakbridge COO Michael Dollar. “He listens to the needs of our teams and implements accordingly. This approach has been highly effective at easing potential integration issues in terms of personalities and function.”
The result: Claims that were previously handled by account managers and even producers were redirected into a unified and standardized claims system, nearly doubling capacity and effectively eliminating 60 hours of administrative work per week.
“I feel like the experiences I’ve had up to today have built me for this moment,” Matthews said. “As I’ve progressed in my career and entered new environments, there have been opportunities to manage change and improve department performance, function and processes.”
Another of Matthews’ strategies for designing Oakbridge’s unified claims process was to keep things decentralized. “I want our claims advocates working with each of our offices with different skillsets, because our number one job is understanding the unique local challenges our partners face and providing service to them,” he said.
“Service to the agents, service to our customers and service to our carrier partners. No matter what happens, my team needs to be available. No matter the size of the catastrophe, we have the capacity, and with resolve, will tackle each issue.”
This philosophy was put to the test during the one-two punch of December 2022’s “Arctic blast,” which left a trail of burst pipes and water damage across the Southeast, and March 2023’s string of tornadoes in Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia.
Asked how he felt about the results of this trial by fire, Matthews said “I am pleased. For so many years on the carrier side, I either managed catastrophes or designed the catastrophe plans for those particular companies, so it felt very natural for me.” &
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