Extreme weather on the east coast this winter has led to a surge in homeowners’ claims and invoices from independent claims adjustors. But in February, UPC Insurance, which offers homeowners, fire and flood insurance, was able to process nearly twice as many invoices -- 1,154, up from an average of 700 -- from its adjustors and reduce the average time to close a claim to 2.8 days from four days.

UPC partnered with VIP Software to develop Bill Audit Pro for home inspections, which after a month of production is cutting the time to pay vendors in half, and making adjustors’ jobs easier by automating the creation and upload of invoices into UPC’s estimating system.

“We were searching for how we could make it easier for our independent adjusters to inspect and bill for their services, and make it easier on us to audit those bills,” says Maggan Hamm, claims supervisor, UPC Insurance. “We were manually doing all of that.”

Throughput has increased so dramatically, the insurer now is planning to add a person to help with paying the invoices, Hamm says, and feedback from the adjustors has been positive, as it enables them to get paid more quickly.[Check out J.D. Power's list of homeowners' claims leaders]UPC has integrated Bill Audit Pro with Symbility Solutions, the claims processing and estimating technology the adjusters use to write estimates. Bill Auto Pro pulls data from Symbility and, using configurable business rules based on fee schedules, audits the bill for discrepancies against the estimate, Hamm says. The rules vary for each adjustor, she says, but the configuration took only a couple days.

Though fee schedules have already been agreed upon, there always is potential for fees to jump above a threshold, pushing it to the next fee schedule. There's also the problem of fee manipulation. So, UPC now is beginning to create reporting and metrics that will enable the insurer to review billing discrepancies and identify vendors that submit higher than normal estimates, invoices or mileage charges.

“We wanted to create metrics around billing and hold our vendors accountable,” Hamm says, “And, of course, we wanted to take the human error out of it by developing a program that did all of the auditing automatically.It's pretty user friendly and self-explanatory,” she says. “All the feedback I have received has been great. “We're not the only insurer these adjustors work for, so they have to keep track of multiple different fee schedules for each different company. This program takes the thinking out of it.”

User training was accomplished via WebEx, and online HTML documents are available to users. Hamm says the next stage of implementation will include integration with UPC’s payment system, so that when a bill is marked as paid within Bill Audit Pro, it actually can cut a check at the same time.

“If we could tie those two together, that would be amazing," she says.

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