Agents Await Online Document Management Programs From Carriers

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Online document management programs now being marketed to insurers appear to be a win-cubed situation for agents, companies and customers.

Agents will be able to access policy information online, companies will reap the rewards of saved time and money and added customer services and customers can receive seamless, expanded services, according to a user and vendors.

Richard Canter, a member of the AMS User Group research and development committee and president of Canter Greenman Associates in White Plains, N.Y., says his agency represents 12 carriers. So far, he says, he receives only policy download from those carriers, but he looks forward to the day when their interactions are paper-free.

“What Im anxious to see is the e-policy,” he says, “where companies will have an exact image of the policy on their Web site. The way it would be implemented in our office is that they wouldnt have to send it to us. And we wouldnt have to scan it and enter it into our system.”

Agents, he says, would easily be able to view the policy on the Internet. “Anything we can do to get [companies] to shut off the paper will be wonderful,” he says. “It will save everyone a lot of money and make it very efficient.”

Some agents, he adds, may object to the system, fearing that a falling out with the carrier could mean denied access to customer information. “I think thats unlikely, and you could contractually deal with that through your agency agreement with the company,” he says.

One company that is marketing these services to carriers is FileNET, Costa Mesa, Calif. John Greene, senior product manager at FileNET says the agency will be able to view any document online, including policies. Its up to the company to decide who views what documents.

FileNET, he says, offers a “family” of integrated products called the Panagon Enterprise Content Management Solutions. At the core of these products are image and content services.

Greene says Panagon is marketed to insurers of all sizes. Documents from customers can be scanned into the system and important data such as claim numbers, account numbers and customer names are stored where they can be readily retrieved.

A “Web-client front-end,” he says, allows companies to decide who has access to documents and at what point agents, other companies or end users can directly access those contents.

An agent, he explains, would be able to fill out a document online that would be “moved throughout the approval process or the contact creation process.” The end result might be another document that “could be pushed out to the agent,” Greene notes.

When the process is complete the agent simply “reads an e-mail that says this contract is approved, print out these contracts for signing.” At this point the contracts would be signed and faxed in. The fax ends up being an image capture which becomes part of the customer record, he says.

The system stores all relevant information including documents, forms, photos, paper correspondence and recorded phone calls, he adds.

The cost of the Panagon Enterprise Content Management system varies, he notes. A base configuration can cost from $75,000 and up. Customer usage and base system component requirements determine the exact costs.

Boston-based Tower Technology, Inc. offers Tower IDM, Integrated Document Management for insurance companies. This, according to Tower, is a high-volume transaction system that can handle from 30,000 to hundreds of thousands of documents per day. Types of documents include all forms of unstructured information such as scanned images, forms, word processing documents, e-mails and faxes.

Alex Young, vice president of Towers insurance division, says the program is focused on the carrier and the third-party administrator, but is set up for interaction by agent Web access as well.

William Zastrow, senior vice president, worldwide corporate marketing, describes the process. Customers or agents send in documents, which can be application forms, claim forms or other types of supporting documents such as photos. Typically, Zastrow says the documents are scanned and routed to someone who will complete the indexing and file the information into an electronic customer folder.

Depending on the types of documents that are received, he says, a workflow is kicked off that will either process a new business application or an adjudicated claim. Because the customer folder is electronic, “You can do things simultaneously instead of having a paper folder of documents that is routed serially.”

Benefits, Zastrow notes, include speed between the workflow steps, accuracy and consistency of information. More importantly, he explains, “you have integration with all types of different systems,” including administration systems, rating systems and ERP systems. Information can be accessed, databases updated and automatic letters for requests for information can be generated.

Some carriers, he says, are providing interface to agents so they can electronically fill out an application. In this case “the agent doesnt have to do anything, because the work flow will be kicked off from there and processed through new business underwriting or the claims side of the house.”

The company says pricing begins at $1,500 per user, based upon concurrent server connections.

is an associate editor for NUs Property &Casualty/Risk &Benefits Management Edition.


Reproduced from National Underwriter Life & Health/Financial Services Edition, June 3, 2002. Copyright 2002 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.