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SMA's Insurance Transformation, Where Strategy Meets Action

Deb Smallwood

Using Document Management To Drive Efficiency And Policy Management

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Please join us for this brief podcast on hot to use document management to drive efficiency and policy management.

Listen to or download the 7:04 minute podcast below:

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Announcer: Welcome to another ebizQ podcast.

PS: Hello, this is ebizQ's Peter Schooff. And today I am speaking with Deb Smallwood, the Founder of SMA, Inc., which is a strategic advisory firm that services the insurance industry. Deb is also the ebizQ Community Manager for Insurance and today we're going to discuss using document management to drive efficiency and policy management. Thanks for joining me today, Deb.

DS: Hello Peter.

PS: Now, first of all, can you tell me about the current state of policy and management operations?

DS: I sure can. Boy, it's really an interesting area of a company and was one of the first areas that had automation with policy admin systems back in the 70s and 80s and continues to be a hot area in terms of implementation. But when you look at the operations, what is automated is the production of the policy so that the back page, schedules and the endorsements.

But what we find is that the business operation is still pushing a lot of paper. So for example, they're pushing paper and they're not integrating maybe systems or that documents begin electronically so there's Word, Excel, and other documents like that and they're printed and then they move them manually. The other thing that we find is that paper is moved by hand so that's time and expensive.

There's a significant labor burden that's devoted to either filming or scanning as paper moves through this process. And a lot of companies still have paper folders. What -- I'll never forget visiting some insurance companies that have these significantly thick, especially, on the commercial, thick paper folders that they have reinforced floors because the file systems are so heavy and extensive and they're just incredible. So there's still a lot of paper folders.

And the result of these paper files and paper folders is that they can't viewed by a lot of -- all of the other departments so they end up replicating those paper files as well. So just to really summarize, it's still very manual, it's still very time consuming and expensive, and still storing a lot of paper.

PS: So then how did the right document management technologies help create added value and can you just give me some concrete examples of that?

DS: Sure. Well, first of all, we have to start thinking in terms of electronic folders and a lot of companies actually are starting to become more paperless but we need to start with that electronic folder. As I said, a lot of the pure insurance document management companies are out there and producing Decs and schedules and they've been actually doing that probably since the 80s. But what we're finding now is insurance companies are actually thinking about creating .pdf.

How about that? And not printing Decs and schedules and multiple copies and sharing the .pdf or even sending .pdf to a policyholder as an agent. The other part is there's a lot of vendors out there that do the imaging and scanning and are more enterprise content manager solutions and the companies are also embracing those. But what we have to do is just look at the whole end-to-end flow of document management so they need to look at the internally generated Word documents and what they're doing with those and the exchange of these versions and how they're storing them electronically.

They also need to as I mention look at the policy printing capabilities and either have .pdfs or be able to store images. The other area that we're finding really fascinating, there's a lot of faxing going on between agents and underwriting and ultimately policy admin so the use of fax servers to reduce. There's one company that I walked into had fax servers so everything was coming electronically and then they were going ahead and printing the faxes so they could process them. So looking at ways to try to automate in the workflow and route these documents through workflow managers and workflow tools.

PS: Very interesting. Now, in terms of what you've seen actually out there interest the industry, what are some of the quantifiable benefits then?

DS: Well, if you think truly of the business transaction so from a policy production, it's a new business; it's a renewal; it's an endorsement. We're seeing that with the use of workflow tools, and imaging, and scanning and really looking at not producing the paper, but moving the documents electronically as structured and unstructured data.

We're actually seeing the elimination of redundance steps, the elimination of handoff, the elimination in reduction of wait times to be able to even produce policy. So as I said in earlier podcasts, it took two weeks for us to get a quote from underwriting for our work comp policy and we're small boutique consulting firm, right.

But it took over a month once we got the quote to actually get our Dec and schedules, our policy. So how can they automate that? And I'm sure it was a lot of paper pushing. And they're also -- we're seeing elimination and reduction in copying of documents and scanning. So for example, we're seeing reduction as in time, like 65% in time. We're seeing in some cases anywhere from 30 to 50% reduction in expenses so pretty significant savings.

PS: Excellent information. And I recommend to anyone listening to this, please check out Deb's excellent coverage of the insurance industry on ebizQ. Thank you so much for joining me today, Deb.

DS: You're welcome.

Announcer: This has been an ebizQ podcast.

[End of Audio]


Thanks for a great podcast, it was interesting to hear a real professional in the field of IT.

I am getting a bachelors in both management and environmental policy, I was just wondering what kinds of jobs I could get with these two degrees. Thanks.

Hey i have been assigned to draft a policy manual for the management committee responsible for establishing consultation fees. where can i get the guide lines from?thanks.

Here i am little bit confuse that strategic management is now in use replacing business policy.Can anyone please let me know when did this change take place?

How long does it take an insurance company to issue an automobile insurance policy after receiving deposit?Thanks.

it took two weeks for us to get a quote from underwriting for our work comp policy and we're small boutique consulting firm, right.

Thanks for this great podcast, it was interesting to read a professional in the field of IT !

Really thanks.


getting a bachelors in both management

great podcast, it was inter

The purpose of the SMA blog is create a dialogue around insurance transformation; launching a different perspective on linkage between strategy, process and technology choices and shifting the mindset from a technology driven approach with SOA & BPM to a business driven service-oriented thinking that creates agile and flexible new insurance business models. Look for a wide gambit of trends, research, case studies, and insights on making transformation a reality.

Deb Smallwood

"I grew up in the insurance industry and have experienced the shackles that ineffective business processes with misaligned monolithic technology solutions have placed on insurance companies...

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Karen Furtado

Karen Furtado brings a wealth of industry knowledge to SMA. She spent 25 years at CGI, focused in insurance. Her specific areas of expertise include product development, complex system implementations, vendor selection processes, project management and business and IT outsourcing services. Her passion is working with both technology providers and carriers to deliver high-value solutions for core issues facing the industry. Karen actively participates as an industry speaker.


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