Improved Scale Makes Reports Easier for Homesite
Robert Regis Hyle | April 08, 2016
Homesite Insurance improved scale for its homeowners’ coverage through technology provided by 1insurer. Grace Hanson, Homesite’s chief claims officer, answered questions about the benefits of the solution.
ITA Pro: What challenges did Homesite need to address through a technology solution?
Hanson: This project involved enabling Homesite business partners and customers to report claims through existing applications, which were upgraded to have the ability to call the same web services and run the same business logic as if the claims were entered directly into the in-house claims system. This is completely seamless to the end user and there are no extra steps for Homesite staff to take once the claim is reported.
The biggest challenge was reducing the required input to the service down to the essentials and determine acceptable default values for everything else. This took hard work from the business and IT staffs to reach appropriate compromises. Technically, it was a balance between re-use of existing services and performance.
ITA Pro: How long had this issue affected Homesite’s performance?
Hanson: The main business driver, especially since Homesite is a national carrier, was to be able to leverage business partners and customers more collaboratively in order to scale during catastrophic events. Homesite needed to be as proactive in preparing for catastrophic events and as reactive as possible to customer needs in even the most challenging of circumstances.
A by-product of this initiative is that Homesite operates more efficiently when business partners and customers are reporting claims directly, which reduces redundant or duplicative processes. The desired outcome for Homesite was to enable seamless customer self-service for claims reporting (without a manual back end); flexibility around high-volume reporting events, like large catastrophes; and reduced expense.
Homesite employees were previously required to re-key all new losses that were submitted by business partners and/or customers. The goals of this project were to improve claims customer experience, increase operational efficiency, and enhance CAT resource capabilities. The desired outcomes of the FNOL/CMS Integration project were to provide our policyholders with their claim number, adjuster name, and adjuster phone number at the end of the new claim submission process, while also being able to scale up our FNOL service capabilities in support of a one-in-100-year CAT event.
ITA Pro: How did Homesite handle the search for a new software solution?
Hanson: Homesite enlisted Novarica, a leading industry analyst firm, to lead the vendor evaluation and selection process on our behalf. At a high level, the following processes were undertaken before final selection:
- RFP was issued, scoring was conducted, and a short-list of vendors remained.
- Demonstration scripts were developed and provided to the short-listed vendors to come in and demonstrate how each vendor’s solution could support Homesite’s requirements.
- Technical requirements were provided and a deep dive was conducted into each vendor’s capabilities for alignment and future proofing.
- End users were granted access to the vendor’s solution to take it for a test drive from a functional and usability standpoint
- Reference checks were conducted.
ITA Pro: What made you believe 1insurer was the right business partner for your organization?
Hanson: The software provider we chose had a strong technology platform with full end-to-end claims capabilities for homeowners. The configuration tool provided with the solution would allow us to easily make configuration changes in support of our fast-growing environment to support innovation, claims handling support for new products, and general market growth. Lastly, but most importantly, there was a good cultural fit between our organizations.
ITA Pro: How long did the process take to find the right solution and how long did it take from signing contracts to implementation?
Hanson: The evaluation from RFI to contracts being finalized took eight months. From signing to implementation, it took two years which was longer than anticipated as the project experienced a couple of delays. The implementation stalled after six months as Homesite was being acquired by American Family and then was further delayed the following year as a decision was made not to go into production during the catastrophe season—May through November.
ITA Pro: How was the implementation process handled?
Hanson: This was a two-stage rollout. The first stage of the project—FNOL Web—was to enable business partners’ system to connect to Homesite’s claim web service, invoking all of the business logic and sending it through seamlessly to Homesite. This phase started in January of 2015 and was in production in five months. This included the entire development life cycle from requirements through production and operational readiness.
The second stage was to enable customers to be able to do the same through Homesite’s existing web site. This stage went live two months later in August of 2015.
Tom Wolczik, claims business operations and technology manager, and Mark Raymond, IT program manager led the way. There were 23 Homesite employees involved (18 from IT and five from the business side). In addition, there were eight external 1insurer IT resources and Safelite also partnered with Homesite in the effort.
There were 30 employees involved including business leads, business analysts, IT project manager, IT analysts, IT developers, IT manual and automated QA (18 internal and eight external). These cross organization teams worked in an iterative waterfall environment to achieve a result in a short period of time.
ITA Pro: Has the 1insurer solution performed as expected? Were any of your business processes changed to achieve greater benefits from the solution?
Hanson: After just two months, 25 percent of claim reporting is now done by non-Homesite employees allowing for staff reduction or re-purposing of personnel to other critical areas. In addition, this has streamlined the receipt of claims, which previously would have had to have been re-entered by Homesite staff and manually dispatched to adjusters. The process optimization enabled by this implementation has helped lead to a quicker claim resolution, making for a more satisfied customer with less cost to Homesite.
ITA Pro: How has this particular technology solution improved Homesite’s performance?
Hanson: It has eliminated manual re-keying associated with 33 percent of incoming FNOL volume More than 9,000 customers have experienced this service improvement since June. Claims are automatically assigned to specialized adjusters based on severity and location
Other, non-quantifiable results were achieved:
- Increased customer satisfaction
- Increased business partner satisfaction
- Increased employee satisfaction
- Increased scalability during times of very high claim/call volume
ITA Pro: How is this solution addressing Homesite’s performance for the next five years?
Hanson: The solution will help support the company’s performance in the following ways:
- Productivity gains through automation and reduction of manual processes will allow the business to grow, minimizing the amount of additional staff needed to support the growth.
- Flexibility in the solution and the ease in which change can be made will allow for expansion into commercial lines and help support our market growth and expansion plans.
- With a persona-based web application, portals can be personalized and pushed out to our consumers and business partners to form a collaborative, high-touch environment, improving customer and business partner satisfaction, which will support high retention and keep our brand strong.
- All of this and more will support reduced cycle times on claim closure, which will lower the overall loss and expense costs to the company and allow for increased profitability. This can be used to further invest in the growth of the company and our employees as well as bring some price relief for our customers.
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