Carriers are seeking to provide as many services as possible directly to their to customers and partners through online venues. However, such efforts typically have fallen flat, since the data flowing into front-end or front-office applications typically stopped flowing at that point. Companies still had to manually re-key the data against back-end policy administration management or CRM systems to get application processes moving.
CAMICO Mutual Insurance Co., a Redwood City, Calif.-based certified public accountant (CPA)-owned mutual insurance company, recently turned to a BPM solution to automate the online sales and renewal processes for its smaller CPA firm customers. The result of adopting this solution has been greater efficiency in processing data and issuing a policy.
The company sought to expand the portal's capabilities - when customers entered data using the portal, CAMICO personnel would need to re-enter the data each time it was passed to a different system.
"The primary driver was to address the demand of customers to do business with us online," says Scott Webber, VP of eBusiness for CAMICO. "In doing so, we wanted to make sure that we gained a significant amount of efficiency."
The company needed to address the challenge of processes moving across multiple silos and systems.
"We have a CRM system, a policy management system and a number of different financial systems," Webber explains. "We didn't just want to have data entered in a Web form that needed to be re-entered later by someone. We wanted to use straight-through processing (STP) to complete transactions online. We want transactions to go through all our different silos and systems in the most effective and efficient manner possible."
With all these silos and systems, many manual processes were required to move information back and forth.
"New prospects would come in and be entered into our CRM system and then re-entered into our policy management system," Webber says. "Paper quote letters, faxes and so forth, generated as a byproduct of the process, would be sent to the customer. The customer either accepts or rejects the proposal, which is then sent to our policy services people in order to issue the policy. Then it gets mailed out after it's issued."
Webber adds that "data was keyed many times, and the elapsed time in servicing each new transaction was significant."
The new BPM-enabled process includes automated decision-making. "We've automated the new business transactions and renewal transactions for our professional liability product," Webber says. "We have also automated the renewal transactions for our employment practices liability product. There's basically no longer any human involvement whatsoever from start to finish if a customer passes our underwriting rules."
Webber estimates that 45% of transactions now flow through the automated process. Those applications that do not pass the underwriting rules are then diverted to processing by humans.
CAMICO is using Oracle Fusion Middleware Solutions for Insurance, including Oracle WebCenter Suite and Oracle Business Process Management. Within six months of deploying the Oracle-based solution, CAMICO received half of its direct applications and renewal submissions via its online channel, and increased the total number of submissions received across all channels of communication.
By automating transaction processing, the company was able to fine-tune underwriting logic and increase the number of users who can complete transactions online. As a result, CAMICO has improved underwriting efficiency and decreased the amount of manual work associated with the insurer's application process. "We've been able to radically improve the quality of our service offering," Webber says. "For our average transaction, we've probably cut the time at least four- or five-fold."
A SERVICE-ORIENTED APPROACH
CAMICO services customers directly online, and up to 90% of its customers are smaller firms. Much of the processing work to renew their policies is now automated as part of the BPM program, Webber says.
"The renewal system we implemented in July should help take a substantial amount of work off the backs of the policy processors during the year. We have about 6,500 small policies that are candidates to be automatically renewed through the system."
The BPM initiative is also closely linked to the company's service-oriented architecture (SOA) initiatives, Webber says. The SOA approach was developed as part of an effort to achieve straight-through processing. The result was the creation of services that were easily adaptable to the BPM environment, especially as it linked the front-end customer interfaces to back-end systems, he explains. In addition, the BPM effort also was part of the overall STP initiative.
This service-oriented approach to integrating BPM with enterprise systems is a smart strategy, says Donald Light, analyst with Boston-based Celent. "Strictly speaking, you don't have to have an SOA framework to implement a BPM solution. But everyone today will be building and putting it in that kind of context. An SOA framework is the way the BPM solution will interact with your other systems." Light says the more mature an organization's SOA deployment is, the higher likelihood of success with BPM.
CAMICO also improved decision-making capabilities for its management team by enabling rapid online access to enterprise data, including previously disparate sales data. Improved data access and business intelligence enable CAMICO to identify areas for improvement and define strategies to promote business growth across the enterprise and all channels of business.
Joe McKendrick is an author and consultant specializing in information technology, based in Doylestown, Pa., and a regular blogger for www.insurancenetworking.com.
(c) 2009 Insurance Networking News and SourceMedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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