CUNA Mutual's system to keep track of state regulations and requirements was inefficient and time-consuming. Now, through a software solution, the carrier has dramatically reduced the steps involved in the filing process and has increased the speed of its products into the market.The need to oversee multiple projects simultaneously is a familiar one for just about any executive, but few are required to juggle as many as 51 scenarios at any one time.
But that's exactly what the compliance department of Madison, Wis.-based CUNA Mutual Group has to do. CUNA Mutual, which offers insurance and other financial services to credit unions and their members worldwide, does business in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. As a result, the company must stay on top of the changing regulatory environments in each market.
CUNA Mutual has a three-person department that oversees the company's property and casualty form, rate, and rule filings. Their responsibilities include monitoring the filings with each state's insurance department through final approval and ensuring the company is in compliance with all insurance regulations.
Up until about three years ago, the system the department used to keep track of all the regulations and requirements comprised disparate software programs, filing cabinets, multiple folders, manuals of regulations and requirements, and paper copies of filings. As the system expanded beyond the physical space available, older documents were boxed and shipped to an off-site storage facility.
The system was, to say the least, very inefficient.
The situation came to a head in the late '90s when CUNA Mutual had a large volume of form, rate and rule filings to process.
"The amount of work that those filings were creating was tremendous and very, very time-consuming," said Kim Erfurth, associate director of CUNA Mutual's credit union protection compliance support. "We knew we either needed to hire more people or find a way to be more efficient." When it became clear that hiring additional staff was not an option, automation was the only solution.
"It was taking too long to get products to market," Erfurth said.
CUNA Mutual determined there were three main goals it wanted to meet - to speed up the preparation, submission, and regulatory approval of filings; to reduce the time and cost of the product development cycle; and to develop an online record retention system. After reviewing a number of proposals, CUNA Mutual decided to go with InSystem's Tracker system.
"We had several different software programs and a lot of manual processes that were needed to do our job," Erfurth said. "Tracker basically had everything we needed."
The Tracker system has three components:
"The other key point with Tracker was that we were able to customize it to meet our business needs," Erfurth said. "What we have done is create an electronic file that has the same look and feel that our paper files did."
CUNA Mutual is considering purchasing from InSystems a SERFF integration component. SERFF, or System for Electronic Rate and Form Filing, electronically submits filings to insurance departments, eliminating mailing costs.
The Tracker system was implemented in August 2000. "We had a couple of days where they came and helped us determine how we would customize it for our business," Erfurth said. That was followed by two to three days of actual training on the system. InSystems also provides manuals, online help, and a customer-service hotline if questions arise.
Erfurth said it is difficult to quantify some of the advantages of the Tracker system. While she couldn't provide specific data, she said Tracker has reduced by more than half the number of steps involved in the filing process and virtually eliminated the manual assembly of filings. "As a result, we were able to get our products to market faster," she said, adding that while CUNA Mutual didn't quantify how much faster products were hitting the market, "there's definitely a benefit there."
Other benefits, however, were easier to measure. For example, if a document that had been placed in storage was needed, it would take one to two days to retrieve it. With the Tracker system, information can be accessed within a couple minutes with just a few clicks of the mouse. "When you get a phone call, you have access to information at your fingertips," Erfurth said.
In addition, she said state regulatory and instruction manuals previously were updated manually - with pages physically removed and new information inserted - while the Tracker system automatically updates state manuals each month.
The system also automatically prepares a list of documents that might be needed with a particular filing, as well as populating all documents with boilerplate information such as company name, address, and federal identification number.
"The quality of our filings - in terms of accuracy - has gotten better using Tracker," said Erfurth. "As a result, we have fewer filings returned for missing information."
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