As technology continues to improve agency operations, independent agents and brokers are enjoying more opportunities to serve their clients more promptly and effectively in claims situations. Promising to make agency workflows more efficient, most of these new capabilities have already been introduced by some carriers—and agents will play a critical role in expanding their usage.
Claims Download: the automatic downloading of new claims and claims status information into agency management systems. An ACORD standard is already in place for claims download, and several vendors and carriers have begun to implement the new capability.
Claims download, which could save the typical agency hundreds of hours per year, allows for all of claims to be:
- Automatically entered into the agency management system
- Updated as the status is changed
- Closed when the carrier closes it
Recommended Claims Workflow: how do claims download, Real Time claims inquiries and email or Activity Notes work most efficiently together? Consider the following workflow:
- The claim is reported directly to the carrier by the client.
- The agency receives an instant notification of loss in the form of an email message or Activity Note.
- Overnight, the claims are processed via a batch process and downloaded into the agency management system.
- A log is waiting for the agent in the morning, when he or she comes in to review what was attached (similar to policy download) and what went to suspense to be attached.
- The claim is now in the agency management system and is ready to be serviced.
- If necessary, agents can use claim inquiry at this point to look at anything that has transpired during the current day. For example, the adjuster had not been assigned when the claim was downloaded, and you need that information today.
- Any updates to the claim will download each night (or at given intervals during the day, if the carrier and vendor provide this feature). Again, this download information will populate a log for review.
- The agency is now in the position to run reports from the agency management system to track losses.
Additional tools not represented in the above process include the following: First Notice of Loss (FNOL) Claim Reporting, which allows the agent to submit the claim to the carrier and instantly receive the claim number and adjuster for the claim—and therefore the ability to provide the client with the necessary information on the spot; and Real-Time Loss Runs, which allows the agent to request loss runs through the agency management system and receive them back from the carrier in Real Time, providing clients with immediate service and saving considerable time for the agent.
Additional details about these new technologies are available on the Agents Council for Technology website. Agents, carriers and vendors must continue to work toward harnessing the exciting technologies that are already available to us, in order to make our distribution system more efficient and responsive.
Donna LaGoy, a former independent agent, is now a client partner of Applied Systems, Inc. and chair of the ACORD Claims Download Working Group. She is involved with the Big “I” Agents Council for Technology (ACT), AUGIE, ACORD and ASCnet.
This article reflects the views of the author and should not be construed as an official statement by ACT.