Industry experts often criticize insurers as being "laggards" in adopting new technologies. But carriers are leading most other industries when it comes to adopting scanning and imaging technologies, a new study concludes.For example, 86% of insurers surveyed by AIIM, an enterprise content management association based in Silver Spring, Md., are using scanned documents and images to answer inquiries from customers, compared with 73% of companies across all industries. Furthermore, 60% of carriers use scanned documents to respond to litigation, compared with 45% of all survey respondents.

"It's not that surprising to me because insurers have incredible amounts of paper that they have to deal with, so they were early adopters of scanning and imaging technologies," says John Mancini, president of AIIM.

Imaging and scanning technologies not only reduce document storage costs and the amount of paper that gets shuffled around, they also enable insurers to streamline processes such as underwriting, claims settlement and policy administration. "What it really comes down to is routing policy approvals, automating responses with customers and handling claims," Mancini explains.

"In many ways, scanning is the on-ramp to process management. Until you implement the technology, you cannot automate these processes because you have to route a piece of paper."

External factors

Although the desire to reduce internal costs certainly is a factor in the industry's adopting of scanning and imaging technologies, Mancini believes that litigation and regulation concerns are external factors that influence how insurers manage information.

For example, 48% of carriers surveyed said that the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 has influenced how documents are now used or retained. That compares with 36% of respondents across all industries. And, 58% of carriers surveyed say the increasing use of electronic documents in litigation, audits and investigations has changed how they use documents, compared with 41% of all respondents.

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