STUDY: INSURERS NEED TO CHANGEU.S. consumers want insurance companies to more effectively communicate new products and services available to them, provide customized policies to better meet their needs and bring their customer experience up to par with other industries, according to a study by Armonk, N.Y.-based International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) of more than 3,000 P&C insurance policyholders.

IBM's report says few insurance companies are looking for new and innovative ways to connect with their customers. Fewer than half of the policyholders polled are informed about new products and services by their providers. Additionally, 43% of policyholders said their insurance companies customize policies to meet their specific needs, notes IBM.

CARRIER WEB OFFERINGS RANKED

A new study by Chicago-based consulting firm Vox Inc., evaluates the home pages and usability of 14 major auto insurance providers' Web sites to examine customer expectations and discover where companies succeed or fail in attracting and retaining customers.

The study's highest scorers were Bloomington, Ill.-based State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. and Mayfield Village, Ohio-based Progressive Casualty Insurance Co.

OXLEY: U.S. NOT AT SOX DISADVANTAGE

One of the co-authors of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act says its introduction in 2002 has not put the United States at a competitive disadvantage with its European counterparts.

Michael Oxley, former U.S. Congressman and co-author of the act, made these assertions during a podcast conducted by Gartner Inc., a Stamford, Conn. research firm, to mark the fifth anniversary of the regulation's promulgation.

Oxley said that although there is evidence that some European financial markets are becoming increasingly attractive, the U.S. is still regarded as the safest, deepest and fairest of international markets with the highest standards.

Currently vice chairman of the NASDAQ stock exchange, Oxley also said that since the introduction of SOX in the U.S., many countries, both developed and developing, have moved toward higher standards of corporate governance and listing requirements. The predicted "race toward the bottom" that was widely predicted after the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ tightened their listing standards has failed to materialize.

"Frankly it has been mostly the opposite of what many predicted," Oxley said during the podcast. "Other countries have stepped up and understood how important it is to have these kinds of standards and I would expect that this will continue apace and continue to pay great rewards."

AIIM EXPANDS PROGRAM

AIIM, the Silver Spring, Md. Enterprise Content Management Association, is expanding its certificate training offerings to include two new programs for business process management and information organization and access.

The new programs are designed to provide the skills and knowledge to improve business processes and optimize enterprise search and findability.

Each AIIM certificate training program consists of three designation levels (practitioner, specialist and master level) across four programs: enterprise content management, electronic records management, business process management and information organization and access.

INSURERS ADDING SCANNING AND CAPTURE SYSTEMS

Insurers are recognizing the savings associated with installing distributed scanning and capture technologies, according to a July 2007 survey by AIIM.

AIIM sampled 456 end users from its database as part of a worldwide online survey. Of those surveyed, 57% indicated that distributed scanning and capture technologies were being utilized within their organization.

NER EXPANDS DATABASE SERVICES

National Equipment Register (NER), a New York theft recovery and risk management member of the Jersey City, N.J.-based ISO family of companies, is expanding its database of construction and farm equipment theft and ownership data. NER, which has been building databases of stolen equipment and equipment ownership since 2001, increased its database of information to enable recording and monitoring of losses from equipment damage, the company reports.

This additional data will enable NER to detect fraudulent claims for damaged equipment, in addition to identifying fraudulent theft reports. An additional service records stolen product identification number (PIN) plates. This lets NER detect a stolen machine that has been given the identity of another machine through the theft of its PIN plate.

CARRIERS NEED TECHNOLOGY

When it comes to claims processing, carriers need to leave behind traditions that limit future growth, and seek technology that will enable them to manage complex business processes that, to date, have been people-intensive, according to a report from TowerGroup, Needham, Mass.

The report, "Technology Direction in U.S. P&C Insurance Claims Operations: Transforming a People Business," maintains that claims departments typically perceive technology as incapable of duplicating the decision-making process of an experienced claims adjuster, and therefore, have been historically reluctant to adopt technology solutions.

The research finds that although some claims executives are driving new vision into their operations, most claims organizations still struggle to strike a balance between adopting new technology and maintaining an intimate connection with their customers, agents and brokers. The pursuit of competitive advantage and ever-increasing consumer expectations requires service points to be frictionless and seamless. Karen Pauli, TowerGroup senior analyst and author of the report, believes the greatest benefit of technology to P&C claims operations will be automated information support for decision-making rather than the full automation of processes. "Carriers must have a system that can address the business drivers impacting claims operations," she says. "The right technology, including incorporation of predictive analytics, will enable claims adjusters to achieve a new and superior level in the claims service experience."

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