Claims processing capabilities within the automobile insurance segment is not unlike a car itself-hitting on all cylinders is essential to ensure high performance.In 1999, Mayfield Village, Ohio-based Progressive Insurance Co. debuted TotalPro, a Web-based claims processing application that can be activated by both internal affiliates and Progressive policyholders.

"With our TotalPro Service, one of the many integral capabilities is that policyholders can get access to a network of carefully selected repair facilities that do high-quality work," says Brian Brylinski, manager of corporate claims for Progressive.

Logging onto, a Progressive agent can interface with auto repair shops to determine which ones are most compatible for a particular repair assignment. This referral can be based on a shop's capacity; its proximity to the policyholder's home, and its cost to perform the work.

After initial communication takes place, repair shops can download an estimate directly into Progressive's claims management system, says Brylinski. Claimants can in turn compare estimates and decide which shop best suits their needs.

When policyholders log onto to the site to to seek information regarding a claim, they can access a number of claims-related issues that go above and beyond car rental and repair work specifications.

When an auto accident occurs, many policyholders first think about setting up the repair. Next, many of them mull over the effect a claim will have on their insurance rates. Often, carriers are unable to furnish rate information in a timely fashion. Progressive is able to leverage TotalPro to construct a case for each claim based on the data generated by the servicing agents. It can then predict what type of rate increase, if any, the customer might incur on the next statement. Policyholders can access this data on a site link called "Will This Claim Affect Your Rate?"

Another link enables customers to seek pertinent information about a claim if their vehicle is totaled. This is available under the Total Loss section of the site.

"A Progressive representative may determine a vehicle to be a total loss if the extent of damages or the cost to repair damages, when combined with the salvage value (the market value of the vehicle in its damaged condition), exceeds the actual cash value (ACV) of a vehicle," says Brylinski.

"The ACV is the market value, considering age and condition of the vehicle at the time of the loss. The site provides steps to follow under this classification."

All told, Brylinski notes that electronic solutions such as TotalPro is Progressive's way to "meet policyholders and affiliates online to not only reduce costs from the system but to enhance the overall claims experience, which is so important in fostering long-term relationships."

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