FinSecure (a Berkley Company), like many insurance providers, needed a way to automate processes in order to enhance and speed up services to its customers. The firm was also looking for a system that would help distinguish it from its competitors. FinSecure found an answer to its business needs through the use of customized software.
The insurer, based in Towson, Md., and a member company of Fortune 500 holding company W. R. Berkley Corp., is focused on serving the insurance needs of financial institutions of all sizes. FinSecure offers bond, management liability coverages and all standard property-casualty lines as well as specialty products that cater to mortgage lenders and trust managers.
All of FinSecure’s products are underwritten on an admitted or non-admitted/excess and surplus basis on behalf of W. R. Berkley Corp. member insurance companies.
Handling processing and billing for a growing volume of lender-placed and foreclosed polices is difficult in a manual environment, and requires additional staff to support and ensure the accuracy of property reporting, says Deborah Martenson, CIO at FinSecure.
In June 2011, the company reached out to Specialized Business Software (SBS), in Cleveland, Ohio, for a solution to its business requirements. SBS is a provider of custom software solutions for insurance, mortgage and financial services companies.
Working together, SBS and FinSecure designed a unique product called FinNET. The successful collaboration of the companies led to the launch of the new software in October 2012, to favorable feedback from FinSecure customers.
FinNET LPF is a secure, Web-based application that is accessible to FinSecure customers through the insurer’s website. It facilitates the placing and renewing of coverage for lender-placed and foreclosed properties. Users can quickly get the right coverage to ensure that their interests are protected, Martenson says. Access to FinNET LPF is provided free of charge to every FinSecure LPF policyholder and their agents or brokers, she says.
All the features of the FinNET LPF application are designed to save customers time and money, through a more efficient process, Martenson says. This includes quick, flexible reporting of properties by batch upload of spreadsheets or online reporting of individual properties; and standard or customized spreadsheet file layouts that are designed for the way users want to report properties.
Other capabilities include the flexible selection of coverages that customers need for each individual property, based on their master policy provisions; convenient storage of all supporting documents, within the application; flexible search for property, locations, coverage, coverage requests and import batches; instant premium information for each entered property; quick renewal and cancellation of coverage for the properties selected; and instant access to view and print all master policy information.
The application was built from scratch to meet the specific needs of FinSecure’s customers, Martenson says. The software is expected to provide a number of internal benefits for FinSecure, including reduced labor costs, streamlined manual processes in several departments, and automated quote and policy issuance that is handled within a single department.
With the use of the FinNet LPF application, the customer property reporting process moved from internal data entry to an automated online customer self–servicing capability.
“Enhanced features are designed to provide us [with] a competitive advantage in the lender placed and foreclosed property marketplace,” Martenson says. “A more efficient process has improved accuracy and created operational efficiencies”
The technology also delivers a number of benefits to FinSecure customers, which also helps FinSecure stand out from its competitors. For one thing, there is improved accuracy of data, which creates more efficient and timely claims handling, Martenson says. The system provides customers with more clarity of coverage and coverage costs, she says.
In addition, the billing detail produced by the technology provides an immediate audit trail for properties, coverages and premium.
Finding such a solution that could meet the needs of the company as well as its customers was not easy, Martenson says. “The initial challenge was to find a vendor that understood our business and our product,” she says. “Defining requirements was made easier due to the fact that SBS has knowledge and experience in developing solutions for the insurance industry, as well as specific knowledge of our product.”
FinSecure and SBS held joint meetings frequently to define the various requirements for the system, as well as during the development of the software and the user testing process. During the development phase, issues and solutions were tracked in an online corporate system to ensure that requirements were being captured and problems were being resolved as they were encountered, Martenson says.
The development of the system was achieved in five iterations. Each iteration allowed FinSecure to easily and quickly test the functionality of the application and request revisions as needed, Martenson says. “This ensured that the final product functioned as envisioned, but allowed us to identify and revise requirements that testing brought to light,” she says.
SBS worked closely with FinSecure throughout the process to make sure the solution met all of the insurer’s security and compliance requirements. “SBS has the ability to be flexible in the technologies they employ in order to satisfy our IT guidelines,” Martenson says. “The end result was [that] the system was implemented on time and within budget.”
Within FinSecure, an internal implementation team worked on a rollout schedule and training material to convert all customers to the new system. “The challenge for us and our customers was to start taking advantage of the time and cost benefits as soon as possible,” Martenson says. “We developed an aggressive program for bringing those customers onto the new system.”
The intuitive design of the software tool allows FinSecure’s customers to enjoy the benefits of the application quickly and easily. This has helped speed up the process of getting customers on board with the new technology. “We are on time and within budget for transfer of all customers,” Martenson says.
In addition to providing immediate benefits to FinSecure and its customers, the customized software deployment fits into the company’s long-term business and technology strategy.
“FinSecure’s strategy is to serve the financial services industry with the financial strength, stability and enduring professional relationships our customers have told us they want and need,” Martenson says. “FinNET online tools support this strategy by allowing us and our customers to have access to information and make better insurance decisions. It also allows us to focus our resources to provide the close, personal customer service that our customers expect.”
At the time of the software’s launch, FinSecure president
Mike Dandini noted that FinNET tools were a major part of the firm’s strategy for providing superior insurance solutions to the financial services industry. The combination of the new capabilities of FinNet, along with the company’s industry expertise and personal service, brings even more value to what FinSecure offers to the market, he said.
FinNET LPF is just the first tool in a planned FinNET family of Web-based applications. FinSecure is considering adding its trust policy product (FinSecure TrustPro) as part of the tool set. TrustPro is designed for financial institutions’ trust departments that have fiduciary responsibility to protect trust properties.
FinSecure is also working toward building new features for the technology so that all of its customers can view and retrieve copies of their policy documents, bills and reports, such as loss runs and loss experience reports.
The entire suite of FinNET tools to be built by the firm in the future will allow its customers to access more self-service options and more timely and accurate management of their FinSecure insurance programs.
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