In the field, Allstate Insurance Co. deployed what its calls Mobile Response Units to handle claims resulting from the hurricanes.Equipped with desktops PCs, these mobile units were supported by satellite technology to enable field personnel to upload and download claims data to Allstate's mainframe systems and estimating systems.

The Mobile Response Units, which are about the size of a recreational vehicle, have delivered a great deal of workflow efficiency for the Northbrook, Ill.-based insurer.

However, the company realized that when it comes to dealing with a natural catastrophe, it needed to go the extra mile to enhance IT support. As a result, Allstate in late August invested in a technology called Transportable Satellite Internet Systems (TSIS).

"The TSIS is about the size of a desk," says Mark McGillivray, director of property-casualty claims services for Allstate. "It's more mobile than an MRU and can be positioned even closer to the front lines of a storm to access damage."

Adjusters used laptops to process claims, and then used the TSIS to upload and download data to Allstate's claims databases. The TSIS, which supports both wired and wireless communications, is equipped with 48 wired ports and 100 wireless ports.

Adjusters were provided wireless cards to connect to laptops for the wireless communications mode.

"We were able to position the TSIS beyond where the MRUs could go-it can penetrate much deeper to ground zero than a Mobile Response Unit can," says Bill Mellander, a spokesman for Allstate who was part of the catastrophe support team in Florida.

Developed by a company based in Columbus, Ohio, TSIS was initially tested at Ohio State University. "We became aware of it when one of our independent claims adjuster partners purchased one for their people," McGillivray states.

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