Insurers Draw Up New E-Policy

 
 
By Shelley Solheim  |  Posted 2005-08-01
 
 
 

Forms processing is a big job in the insurance industry, and many companies are increasingly looking for ways to streamline antiquated systems. To automate the generation and distribution of the numerous forms and letters required for processing claims, property and casualty insurance giants CNA Financial Corp. and Safeco Insurance turned to Adobe Systems Inc.s Intelligent Document Platform.

CNA, like many enterprise companies, had used Adobe software for many years—but only on the desktop.

The company, which has deployed an SOA (service-oriented architecture) to run application services on, selected Adobes networked document management software over some 20 other competitive products.

"The reason we were interested in Adobe was the next-generation eForm technology they were putting in place," said Bob Kero, director of information architecture for CNA, in Chicago.

"We like the way we can leverage through XML underneath the forms, the XTP [XML Template Page] format, the openness, the integration, the J2EE [Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition] compliance. We understand and like the Intelligent Document view they have and the available services. It was a good fit for us in regard to our overall e-content management architecture, which is an SOA-based architecture," said Kero.

CNA will deploy its claims processing system in an IBM WebSphere environment. Adobe software provides Java APIs, uses XML for data interchange and supports Web services.

"There are a lot of critical CNA business processes that involve capturing data from customers, partners or employees using electronic forms and, on the composition side, sending out letters," said Kero. "Traditionally, these forms-based business processes were managed independently."

Adobes software will let CNA prepopulate forms with customer or policy data from back-end systems, design forms to automatically calculate costs or deductibles, and automatically reroute forms via fax, e-mail or print.

"The claims-based problem was the largest driver, but we looked at technology that could be leveraged for all form and letter composition to increase productivity, reduce expenses and to provide more organizational flexibility," said Kero. "The leveraging of Adobes technology provided us with a significant advantage from the business side for productivity, efficiency and accuracy and, from the technology standpoint, in terms of architectural fit and interoperability."

Click here to read about IBMs acquisition of PureEdge Solutions and what it could mean for Adobe.

CNA is implementing Adobes software as part of a bigger rollout this year.

"Adobe has a very compelling story, and the most difficult situation they face is raising awareness that they can be an enterprise software company," said Kero. "All of our interactions with the company showed us that they can."

"Few other industries spend as much as the insurance industry on paper processes," said Adobe spokesperson Nicole Kealy, in San Jose, Calif.

Seattle-based insurance company Safeco has already streamlined its forms processing with Adobes technology. Safeco says the software allowed it to automate the processing of surety bond applications—a task that used to take days or weeks.

In the late 90s, Safeco acquired American States Financial Corp., a company that specialized in transactional bonds, which are often valued at as little as $50.

Safeco was faced with the challenge of providing these small bonds, which are important for small and midsize businesses, to 8,000 Safeco agents nationwide in a cost-effective way. Traditionally, an agent would call the home office and fax or e-mail a bond request. An underwriter would look at the request, evaluate the risk, run a separate report, type up the bond and mail the bond, often in an overnight package, to the agent. Then, Safeco implemented Intelligent Document Platform.

"We streamlined the process in our service center into a much more integrated system than the three or four disparate systems they used in the past," said Greg Davenport, assistant vice president of surety operations for Safeco, in Redmond, Wash. "The cost savings in time is astronomical, and its helped us provide a service thats unparalleled in the surety industry."

"With Adobe," Davenport said, "we co-developed a Web-based system where an agent can go into a secure Web site and in real time request a bond and electronically underwrite it. We were able to integrate business rules in the process, so if it passes those rules, we can rate the bond, bill it and render back in real time in the browser session a completed bond package."

The forms employ tagged XML fields to identify which of Safecos more than 3,000 application templates are required for the transaction. Data entered by the agents is automatically populated in the correct forms.

If agents require legal consultation, the system generates the materials and delivers them electronically. The solution is also linked to bond rating and credit scoring applications for quicker approvals.

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