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Insurers improve productivity with KM

This article appears in the issue October 2009, [Vol 18, Issue 9]
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Insurance firms are using knowledge management solutions to increase productivity, save on expenses and to improve call center performance.

Croton Stokes Wilson Ltd., London, is an insurance broker that places business with U.S. insurers for Lloyd’s of London. But in order for the small firm to increase its business, it needed to increase its productivity. Leslie Doel, manager, says, "We wanted to be able to process more business with the same number of staff."

The biggest challenge in becoming more productive was working with all of the different forms generated between Lloyd’s and various U.S. firms, Doel explains. The language required for documents varied according to the firm involved. Although the insurance broker had some of the information after making the initial deal between Lloyd’s and a U.S. firm, follow-up correspondence had to be written nearly from scratch. So the firm looked at a few different document management solutions that would enable it to reuse information and generate the necessary documentation in a much more efficient manner.

After testing different products, Doel chose InsuranceAccelerator from Exari. The software uses a Web browser wizard to enable brokers, agents, underwriters or customers to capture data and generate compliant insurance documents. Croton Stokes can generate open market quotes, quote comparison reports, comprehensive policies and binding authority certificates, endorsements and complex wordings.

"InsuranceAccelerator guides you through the process better than anything else that I have found," Doel says. The insurance broker went live with the application at the beginning of 2008, and by the beginning of this year, had replaced all of the legacy systems that handled the same functions.

The increased productivity was quickly evident, according to Doel. In 2007, the company produced 642 insurance policies and subsequent documents with a staff of six. In 2008, with some documentation produced through the legacy system and the rest through Exari, the number climbed to 710, while the staff decreased to five. This year, running totally on Exari and with the same staff size, Doel expects to see that number jump to 1,150.

"The growth is entirely due to the Exari system," Doel says. "It uses a standard Microsoft Word package. We can take the notes in Word, cut and paste, reformat and send as needed. Now we only have to put the information in once. Being able to reuse it saves a tremendous amount of time."

It also has sharply reduced errors, which is important in the highly regulated insurance industry, Doel adds, estimating that Croton Stokes has reduced its error rate by between 70 percent and 75 percent in the last three years.

Delivering knowledge to customers

The move to consumer-directed health plans that started a few years ago, combined with the increasing complexity of insurance offerings, has meant that insurance companies need to provide information in a way that can be understood by non-experts, says Jep Larkin, director of sales communication, for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida (bcbsfl.com).

"With the advent of consumer-directed health plans, consumers are taking more accountability for their own healthcare plans," Larkin says, "so they need to be more engaged to understand the different plans and how to choose among them. The information is very complex. Navigating through the different terms and policies is very confusing."

The company was also growing quickly with in-state and out-of-state policies, including many sold to groups. But the time and expense spent sending salespeople to make presentations was becoming prohibitive, according to Larkin.

In addition to communicating the different benefits to consumers, the insurer also had to keep agents up to date on plan offerings. BCBS Florida uses independent agents, who can choose from a number of plans for their clients, so it is important to provide them with convincing information that their plan is better for an agent’s clients than a competitor’s plan, Larkin explains. So the insurer looked for a solution that would make that information much easier to understand, while reducing the company’s overhead costs.

BCBS Florida chose a platform from Brainshark to distribute the knowledge via online multimedia presentations. In addition to containing voiceovers, they also incorporate attachments, comprehension questions and more—and can be stored indefinitely and easily updated.

The information is hosted on the Brainshark site. So all BCBS needs to do to make a presentation is to invite an individual policy or group policy prospect to the Brainshark site to view and listen to any information he or she desires. The multimedia presentations give BCBS of Florida a market differentiator, Larkin adds.

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