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.”

Laffoley describes Whitehill as “a high-volume, low complexity” document solution company.

“Insurance executives dont want to see a paper report a week after it was prepared and sitting in an in-box,” Laffoley stressed. “They want it immediately and in searchable form.” Prices are usually in the $50,000 to $75,000 range for Whitehill products used by the insurance industry, he notes.

LaserFiche, based in Long Beach, Calif., and a division of Compulink Management Center Inc., specializes in document imaging software that stores, indexes, and retrieves paper and electronic images. Its new products include Quick Fields for organizations that process large numbers of the same type of document and Forms Processing for those that deal with many different types of documents.

LaserFiche products may be customized, however. For example, for an insurance firm, a tool bar can be added to a database of policy information. Users type the policy number in the tool bar, and the entire policy as written appears.

Jeffrey L. Green, director of financial services for LaserFiche, stresses the products search and indexing capabilities. “Managers dont want to look for data in an image database manually. LaserFiche allows them not only to pull up scanned images but to reprocess and index them based on new criteria.” Green points out that his product uses key fields on the index screen, and pulls and extracts information that populates these index fields.

“The trend is to push imaging out of the home office and into the branch level,” Green notes.

LaserFiche pricing starts at approximately $2,500 per year, plus a few hundred dollars more for support and licensing fees, the company says.

Document Sciences Corporation, based in Carlsbad, Calif., recently introduced its xPression product, “which provides content processing services to an insurers entire enterprise for design, composition, and delivery of policies, quotes, benefit booklets, claims correspondence and similar documents,” according to Lisa Sutrick, vice president of planning and development.

Sutrick notes that xPression uses open standards to integrate with an insurers existing systems, streamlines workflows, and enables transactional and real-time delivery of print, Web and e-mail documents. “Built-in business logic, versioning, and approval, and an easy-to-use Microsoft Word design interface give business users the ability to produce highly customized and personalized documents,” Sutrick says.

Licenses for xPression start at approximately $80,000 for a Select version and $200,000 for an enterprise edition.

Docubase Systems Inc.s Form product can be used by insurance agents to tie document management into their existing agency management systems, says Bob Larrivee, sales and marketing manager of the Clearwater, Fla.-based company. “It can also be used by insurance companies and any other organization with paper-based or electronic-based data that needs managing.

“The Docubase system images paper-based documents, and if something is already in electronic form, including video and audio communications, it is pulled right in and made a part of the system,” Larrivee adds.

The price for a stand-alone product starts at about $4,500 and can reach hundreds of thousands of dollars for an enterprisewide version, Larrivee says.

Exstream Software Inc., based in Lexington, Ky., “allows companies to create very personalized communications and deliver them through multiple channels,” says Kelley Sloane, vice president of marketing.

According to Sloane, Exstreams enterprise personalization software, Dialogue, can be used to put personalized document creation in the hands of a companys business units, lessening or eliminating dependence on the IT department. “That way, the business units are in control of the content and can get personalized documents to their customers in a timely manner,” she explains.

She also mentions that companies can use Dialogue to create personalized retirement statements for their clients.

Sloane cites contracts, policies, letters and enrollment kits as examples of documents that can be designed, personalized and output by the system. “The software takes the whole document creation and delivery process and makes it much easier and faster,” she notes.

“Price-wise, we target insurance companies with high volumes of communications that they wish to personalize and produce more cost efficiently,” Sloane points out. “The price starts at about $100,000 and goes up from there, depending on number of users and modules, platforms and locations.”

Gary S. Mogel is an assistant editor with NUs Property & Casualty/Risk & Benefits Management Edition.


Reproduced from National Underwriter Life & Health/Financial Services Edition, June 2, 2003. Copyright 2003 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.