By Gary S. Mogel
Document processing software can convert space-hogging files into manageable, searchable and easily retrievable electronic images that can win over even the most ardent paper lover. The key is finding the right product and customizing it to fit your companys requirements.
Information Management Research Inc.s Alchemy product line is “software that allows people to use computers to more efficiently manage business documents,” says Dan Lucarini, vice president of the Englewood, Colo.-based company. “Alchemy can be used for all paperwork needed to create a new claim, policy documents, correspondence and customer records.”
Documents are scanned in and added to what Lucarini calls “an electronic filing cabinet.” Agents can sit at their computers and find documents, and the product can even work in conjunction with the Applied Agency Manager system, he notes, “and with more security than is provided with a paper filing system.”
Alchemy benefits both insurers and agents-brokers, says Lucarini. A carrier might use it to scan and manage policy records, while an agency could use Alchemy to maintain and archive policies, correspondence, customer records and other documents, he explains.
As with all systems described in this article, prices vary greatly depending on the size and scope of what is being purchased, number of users, add-ons and other factors. Lucarini says that prices generally range from about $5,000 for a small agency to “several hundred thousand dollars” for a large enterprise.
InSystems Corporation, based in Markham, Ontario, Canada, produces Calligo, “a software platform for document-intensive business processes,” as Director of Product Management Henk Alblas describes it.
“Calligo permits organizations to create, manage and distribute documents,” Alblas says. “This especially applies to transactional documents, which are part of the relationship with policyholders–policies, benefit booklets, claims, invoices and statements.”
Calligo gives users the ability to create, assemble and retrieve documents, and can leverage customers information assets, work with their data and integrate with carriers existing systems, he points out.
Prices for Calligo start at about $100,000 for what Alblas describes as a “full solution,” including all licensing and servicing. “Every customers requirements are unique and our pricing is based on individual customer situations and configurations,” he notes. “While the $100,000 is a starting price, it is not a typical price.”
Computer Sciences Corporation, based in Austin, Texas, produces the POINT system. “This is a complete system for insurance document management–a policy, premium and point-of-sale system for agents,” says Roger Rudell, director and program manager for the system.
“There is too much paper-pushing in the insurance business. There are announcements coming over the intercom in too many agencies saying who has file number such and such? Why?” Rudell answers his own question: “Because they are storing information on paper instead of in digital format. Their information should be digitized, shared across multiple audiences and communicated to their clients.”
Rudell gives an example of a simple but representative use of POINT: “You take a photo of a vehicle with a digital camera and attach it to the electronic version of the auto policy. It is from then on available in digital format and archived. Multiple people can view the photo without having physically to handle it ever again.”
Prices for POINT range from “tens of thousands to a couple hundred thousand dollars,” Rudell says.
iDatix Corporation, a Clearwater, Fla., Company, has developed the iSynergy product for insurance carriers and agencies. iDatix CEO Steve Allen states that this product is intended to “eliminate the unstructured management and storage” of information.
“We target companies who are still manually handling paper-based files and automate that process. Most companies already have an information management solution and an underwriting solution, and we are not trying to take their place,” Allen notes. “We seamlessly integrate the information and provide hooks to access it. He gave as an example programming the “F11″ key of a computer keyboard to retrieve underwriting data on demand.
Allen says that the system can be used by organizations that are anywhere from “mom-and-pop shops to multinationals.” Prices start at $12,000 to $15,000 including a scanner and basic training, and can go up to $2 million for a “full solution” for a large company.
At Whitehill Technologies Inc., Jim Laffoley, vice president of marketing and business development, was in an insurance company office recently and saw several employees spending time “bursting” copies of reports that came off the printer in three attached parts. He thought to himself, “That sort of thing shouldnt be happening, given the technology that is so readily available today.”
Whitehill Transport, the main insurance industry product of the Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada-based company, “intercepts data streams from legacy applications and transforms the data into customized business documents,” Laffoley explains. “We then manage distribution of the documents via print, e-mail or posting to a Web site,” he says. “All data is stored electronically and in a searchable fashion, and the customer has the ability to mine, extract and transform the data.”