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ISM Article

Vertical Market Insurers Leap Forward

11 Feb, 2009 By: Laurel B Sanders imageSource

Vertical Market Insurers Leap Forward

insurers, every month resembles February in a non Leap Year.  Insurers are under
constant fire to meet stringent deadlines imposed by changing regulations,
demanding clients, and business in general. Time is a precious commodity.  Too
often, managers, staff, and agents rely on adrenaline and organizational skills
as they struggle to handle mounting paperwork, comply with regulations, and
remain competitive.  In today’s merger and acquisition era, it’s a never-ending
battle for survival.  This article explains market drivers for electronic
document management (EDM), outlining business challenges insurers need to
address.  It also describes unique difficulties faced by large and small
insurers so that you can provide appropriate solutions.

Market drivers

Today’s business environment makes EDM a necessity.  Complex regulations,
including Sarbanes-Oxley, HIPAA, market conduct exams, and other requirements
necessitate detailed information governance planning and recordkeeping. 

Complying is costly, but penalties and consequences of non-compliance can be
devastating.  Central, secure access to a company’s digital information and
transactions makes business activity transparent.  Clear audit trails
demonstrate who reviewed, annotated, or acted upon which information, and when.
Quick and unquestionable proof of compliance with policies and regulations
within moments of a request saves money —and potentially a company’s reputation.

Like regulatory agencies, customers can be demanding.  Global Internet access
has created a generation of people who expect immediate responses, accurate
information, and impeccable service.  EDM means insurers can meet and even
exceed service expectations, allowing them to compete successfully in a volatile

In today’s 24/7 lifestyle, consumers want to decide when to do business. 
Insurers offering Web-based information access, online forms, and other
round-the-clock services more easily attract customers and foster loyalty.  An
EDM system transports relevant data into customers’ hands, wherever and whenever
they need it.  On-demand service is crucial to survival; EDM delivers it.

Expectation and delivery

Whether a carrier employs several thousand staff dispersed across multiple
states or a staff of five, many challenges are similar. Although small and large
organizations face somewhat different struggles on a daily basis, all are
searching for solutions that help them to:

1) Improve efficiency.  EDM eliminates tedious searches for information.  No
more misplaced files or paperwork “in progress” on someone’s desk. 

Tighten security.  EDM security vastly outperforms that of locked file
cabinets.  Companies specify who should access, annotate, or act upon documents
based on department, role, or other pre-established criteria. No more security
breaches from papers on desks or unlocked cabinets.



3) Access accurate, complete information.  Integrated EDM with online forms
puts control over personal data accuracy in customers’ hands.  Rules-based
criteria ensure forms meet pre-set standards and are complete.  No more chasing
missing information.

Contain costs.  Although laws require some documents to be printed, most can be
handled electronically.  Companies save storage, postage, copying, and mailroom
costs as personnel leave or retire.  No unnecessary expenditures or injuries
from transporting heavy boxes of paperwork.



Enhance service.  EDM with business process management and workflow tools allows
you to automate processes. Actionable files are pushed through pre-established
processes based on business rules, which significantly shortens turnaround. 
Work stays on target despite vacations, illnesses, or other challenges that
typically cause delays.  Staff instantly makes informed decisions.  Waiting
times are eliminated.  No more customers disgruntled by long waits.

Show ROI.  Web-based imaging delivers quick ROI, often in a year or less. 
Information captured upon receipt is instantly available to authorized persons,
regardless of location.  Desktop delivery eliminates requesting, searching, and
waiting for files; staff skills are put to better use. Storage space is
repurposed.  No more wasted space or squandered skills.

Small Insurers

Small firms today struggle to compete.  Although some have embraced imaging,
many still wrestle with incoming paper.  Digital capture of incoming documents
and electronic forms — and bar codes on outgoing forms that require completion —
dramatically reduce paper flow.  They also ensure centralization of
mission-critical data from multiple sources. This simplifies retrieval.

Electronic queries and Web forms also assist agent connectivity.  Just as
customers expect online convenience, agents prefer working with companies that
make their jobs easier.  Digital information presents quicker answers and
shortens turnaround times.  It reduces phone, postage, and paperwork-related
travel costs, making it convenient to conduct business anytime, anywhere. 

Although system integration is advantageous for small insurers, most lack IT
staff and prefer easily managed systems.  Predictably favored are products
without a steep learning curve or extensive training.  Web services enabling
behind-the-scenes integration with policy management and other standard software
facilitate quicker, easier processing.  Vendors should offer strong support and
services to address unique needs or customization requests in case they arise.

When working with small insurers, listen for the business “pain” – where
inefficiency is greatest – and respond.  A well-chosen EDM solution delivers
information efficiently and enables customized service to help smaller companies
compete with the giants.  A shortsighted one delivers short-lived results at

Large Insurers

Many large companies with departmental EDM solutions are focusing on
leveraging it enterprise-wide.  Integrated business systems are vital to
communications, and facilitate straight-through (on-the-spot) processing.  Data
silos in underwriting, claims, human resources, and finance can be connected
behind the scenes using an enterprise EDM approach.  Agent dictation devices,
automated calling systems, digital fax capture and electronic signatures add
value.  Process automation standardizes processes, pushing actionable
information wherever it’s needed.

Large insurers with multiple offices and dispersed files are challenged when
asked to respond quickly with accurate, comprehensive information for subpoenas
and audits.  Electronic discovery using EDM shortens the search.  Indexed,
searchable documents and communications enable detailed reports to authorized
parties at a fraction of the cost (and frustration) of manual searches of
disparate systems.

Unlike smaller insurers, large insurers have specialized staff who typically
handle repetitive procedures.  Speed and accuracy spell success.  Products that
offer customizable workspaces raise productivity, delivering data needed for
tasks in the most efficient manner for each worker.  EDM suites with workflow
management and dashboard tools offer managerial insight into potential system
bottlenecks, staff inefficiencies, and other areas crying out for improvement.

Large insurers considering enterprise EDM should start with the business unit
that is experiencing the greatest inefficiency, while maintaining a vision for
company-wide improvement.  If your client already has a solution, look for
opportunities to leverage the legacy and line-of-business systems they own with
powerful behind-the-scenes integration tools and enhancements.  Successful
companies are looking for the next opportunity to get ahead in a challenging
marketplace.  EDM integration is the key. It helps them handle greater volumes
while managing compliance and audits without adding people and overhead.

Choosing an EDM provider who meets each of these criteria ends clients’ fears
that their company — large or small — might be a guinea pig for an overly
ambitious vendor. Solid EDM will help companies leap ahead in business

Laurel Sanders is the Director of Public Relations & Communications for
Optical Image Technology, Inc., developers of the DocFinity suite of imaging,
document management & workflow products (www.docfinity.com)

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