The quantity of filings submitted through the System for Electronic Rate and Form Filing (SERFF) continues to multiply as an increasing number of state regulators and insurers recognize the system as a much-needed solution to for addressing cost efficiency, accuracy, and ease of status tracking.As of May 31, 2004, over 50,000 filings had been submitted via SERFF, nearly twice the number of filings submitted during the first five months of 2003. It is anticipated that approximately 155,000 filings will be submitted by year-end 2004, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), Kansas City, Mo.
SERFF usage has been increasing since it was introduced by the NAIC in 1998. Currently, 49 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico accept SERFF filings. Of those, 50 jurisdictions accept property and casualty filings, 48 accept life insurance filings, and 42 accept health insurance filings.
"SERFF is a one-stop, single point of electronic filing system for insurance products," says NAIC vice president and North Dakota Insurance Commissioner Jim Poolman. "The SERFF Board of Directors, with joint regulatory and industry representation, is focused on guiding the technology solution that supports speed to market."
In keeping with the NAIC memberships Speed to Market program, the state insurance departments are also in the process of implementing the Uniform Product Coding (UPC) Matrix, an initiative to establish uniform product naming conventions within SERFF.
To date, 17 states have implemented the UPC Matrix in SERFF, four states are in the process of implementing, and numerous others have plans to implement. The development of this matrix is expected to significantly improve the efficiency in making multi-state filings via SERFF.
"Ultimately, SERFF is designed to improve the efficiency of the rate and form filing and approval processes and to reduce the time involved in making regulatory filings. Thats speed to market," says Poolman.
Over 1,300 insurance companies are currently licensed to use SERFF. For filings submitted via SERFF, the average turnaround time in the filing review cycle is only 23 days.
In order to help ensure that SERFF continues to meet the regulatory modernization needs of the NAIC membership and the needs of regulators and insurance company users in years to come, the NAIC recently initiated an analysis and design project. This evaluation is anticipated to result in the ongoing enhancement and evolution of SERFF in order to further support "Best Practices" and enhance rate and form filing.
The NAIC is currently working to develop a new SERFF tool, the SERFF Programming Interface (SPI). The SPI will enable third-party rate and form filings to integrate with SERFF, thus giving insurance companies more flexibility by allowing them to use a third-party system when compiling a filing, yet still submit it electronically through the SERFF system. The SPI is expected to be in production by the end of June 2004.
In December 2002, SERFF began offering Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) for the 29 SERFF-using jurisdictions that charge filing fees. Of those 29 jurisdictions, there are currently eight states and 12 companies using EFT to pay and receive filing fees, with one state in testing status.
As of May 31, 2004, there were just over 400 EFT filings for this year, which is 77% of the total number of filings for all of 2003. The first five months of 2004 have outpaced the first five months of 2003 in EFT filings by 748 percent.
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