P&C Picks: The Industry Weighs In on Top Tech Tools

Digital marketing shifts to social platform.

Technology keeps transforming, but some advances will benefit the P&C industry more than others, reports Gartner. The technology research firm has singled out the top tech tools that will have the greatest impact on the industry going forward, and CI has asked industry notables to weigh in on what distinguishes them:

 1. Modern claims and policy management systems.

 ”There are many different types of systems but fundamentally they all do the same thing: [and that’s] everything from soup to nuts. It’s where the first [piece of] information goes there is a new claim. It’s where we store our documents that come into our file and where we record all our time and expense entries and file notes relative to interactions with the various people we deal with on claims. So it provides a complete diary of file activity for the insurer.”

 — Fred Plant, president of Plant Hope Adjusters in Moncton N.B., explains when talking about Venue, his modern claims software, and the overall importance technologically is to advanced claims and policy management systems.

 ”iCAT Contents Restoration Software brought us out of the dark ages. We can go to any job site and complete a pack-out armed only with a Pack-out Camera and a roll of barcodes. The iCAT software inventories and organizes all the photos and within seconds the insured and adjuster can log onto the web and see a full photo content inventory which they can search by room or description.

 — Riaz Walji, director of TechAssist in Markham Ont., discussing the innovative software iCAT., contents restoration software that leaves no room for error by cataloguing items in a claim with an innovative photo barcode system.  It also allows for transparency to the adjusters and insureds by making available job and content item information on-line.  Every content item update, recommendation, production status, location change, and report can be viewed in real time as it happens.

 2. Web services and service oriented architecture tools.

“We have our own PBX system, our telephone computer system, which I had specifically built for us. [It] marries our telephony with our computers so we can talk to clients via our computers over the Internet. So we can have hundreds of lines. All of our producers are virtual they all work out of their respective locals, in their own respective back yards. The person who runs the back office, which is the hub of our corporation, is actually in Prince Edward Island, and I’m at Yonge and Lawrence [Toronto],” says Haas. “It’s a totally different platform and it helps us serve the customer all the time because all the phones in all of the locals all ring at the same time. So whoever picks up that phone serves that customer.”

 — Normand Haas, president and CEO of Insurance Brokers Marketing Group Canada (IBMG), as he explains the importance of his firm’s customized communication and technology system.

 5. Advanced fraud detection solutions

 ”You can have a system set up where you enter patterns–formulas, if you will–of known fraud. The [software], installed on the server, would then start processing each financial transaction that takes place–whether it’s a policy or bank transactions–looking for known signatures of fraud. You can also enter samplings of data such as claimant history; with this you can look for multiple claimants and it will [look for patterns of fraud].”

 — John Young, Director, Computer Forensics at Toronto-based Giffin Koerth, explaining how fraud detection systems work.

 6. Web 2.0 and social networking technology.

 ”Facebook has about 400 million participants, so it’s huge; it’s bigger than countries; it’s mammoth. That means a lot of the broker prospects are already on Facebook. Their customers, their prospects, and certainly their employees are already engaged in that environment. And this all has an impact on what brokers do with their websites and what they are doing to put themselves out there. It’s not so much about the technology; it’s much more about the sociology–the way people get information; the way they buy; the way they research. All of this involves the Web, and these days that includes social web and social networking. [What that means is that while] marketing used to be about mass marketing where large corporations pushed information today it’s about being present in your community, whatever that ultimately ends up being. I think that it is incumbent upon agents and brokers to pay attention to that environment and to create a presence in those environments.”

 — Rick Morgan, owner of Rick Morgan Consulting based out of Broomfield Colo., and former underwriter, explaining about the importance of innovative marketing through the Web and social networking.

 7. Product development and configuration solutions.

 ”Access to internal data is essential to product development and the configuration solutions are often more important than the features and functions of a software solution. Integration into the internal databases is essential with important focus on claims loss history and related claims adjustment expenses. Product developers and actuaries need to see this decomposition of loss on the claims side in order to build the elements of a product. For example, the types of coverage and liability decisions are now based on the analysis of the data for product and pricing decisions. Newer systems allow for product modelling and scenario-based decisions based on the available data. Products can be configured with the product specifications designed and built into the system solution.  Whether this is coded manually or configured through rules in the more modern systems, it is the “science of data analysis” that drives the best product and pricing decisions.”

 — James Hogg, partner at IBM Canada, says on the importance of product development and configuration systems.

 8. Business process management (BPM) solutions.

 ”The insurance industry lends itself very well to the usage of BPM tools as it is workflow intensive and many processes are still done manually. A key area where BPM tools can deliver business benefits to the insurance industry is automating key business workflows. Many BPM tools provide modelling tools for business processes and a rules engine for flexible decision automation. Secondly, BPM tools can be effectively leveraged to improve productivity and operational efficiency. A third benefit is the increased business agility and lower transaction costs which it delivers to the enterprise.”

 — Harish Bhat, president, IT Business of Aditya Birla Minacs, based out of Pleasanton, Calif., on the role business process management can play in a broker’s business.

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