Hartford, Conn. - If small businesses always maintained the same workers, locations, fleet vehicles or inventories, then reporting changes for their premium audits would be easy. Reality, however, is quite different. The Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. has introduced an online Premium Audit Reporting tool that dramatically simplifies the process of submitting information to reconcile insurance premiums.Most commercial insurance premiums are provisional, calculated at the beginning of the policy year based on estimates of the business operations throughout the year. At the end of the policy year, the business's records are audited for changes that may affect the premium, including increases or decreases in payroll and sales. When the audit is complete, the premium is modified accordingly.

The Hartford's new secure Web-based tool enables many of its commercial policyholders to quickly complete voluntary audits and submit them online for The Hartford's small business and workers' compensation policies. The policyholder simply logs on to the site and watches as basic policy data, including information from the previous year, populates the screen. The policyholder then updates the existing information and submits it.

"Owners of small businesses are used to wearing many hats, but they don't have to like them all. Our aim was to create a fast, easy-to-use tool that would take the pain out of the process," says Sharon Ritchey, senior vice president, property-casualty service operations at The Hartford. "When businesses provide accurate and detailed information on time, we don't have to make assumptions about exposures and estimate adjustments. The faster we get the audit, the faster we can notify the policyholder of the final premium adjustment."

Recognizing that workplace time is precious and a user may not complete an audit in one session, The Hartford built its system so the audit can be saved and completed at another time. Policyholders also can send additional supporting information by clicking a link to create an email message and attach documents. After completing this process, a user can print a detailed summary and request an email receipt confirming that The Hartford has received it.

"People who do their own income tax will recognize that this tool is a bit like shifting from paper to tax preparation software. Existing information is automatically entered on much of the form, and the software patiently guides the user through the rest of the process. It's a lot less daunting, saves a lot of time, and is much more accurate," Ritchey says.

The Premium Audit Internet Reporting tool will become available as current policies expire, starting in September. The Hartford plans to make this available for approximately 250,000 policies this year, mostly for its small workers' compensation policyholders and Spectrum business owners policy (BOP) customers. Larger businesses remain better served by audits conducted in person or by telephone because of the complexity of the information they need to provide, Ritchey explained.

Source: The Hartford

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