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CAA Replaces Ailing System Just In Time

When an older imaging system reached capacity limits, CAA Insurance turned to FileNet.

All good things come to an end, or so the saying goes. In IT, if a system's lifecycle comes to an end and there isn't a new application to replace it, any number of colorful (and unprintable) cliches come to mind.

For Ottawa-based CAA Insurance, the insurance division for the Canadian Automobile Association (four million members)-an affiliate of the American Automobile Association-the estimated end of the lifecycle for its imaging and workflow system for claims operation was four months away in 2000 when the company realized it needed to replace the system, reports Gerard Proudler, director of insurance systems and insurance controller.

Taking On Water

"We had a system called Watermark and it was good for imaging and workflow, but as we grew and moved to more powerful servers, it became apparent that it could not support our claims operation," says Proudler, who was then just the director of insurance systems. Watermark is a product that FileNet (Costa Mesa, CA) acquired when it bought Watermark Software in 1995. FileNet no longer supports the software. Specifically, the Watermark application was having capacity and performance problems and as CAA's claims volume grew, the system could not handle the increasing volume. "Watermark worked well for us, but there was a capacity flaw in the application," Proudler adds. "FileNet's philosophy was that there was no future in it because of that, so they didn't support it.

"We knew we would exceed capacity in four months," Proudler says. "We basically had four months to do what should be an eight-month project."

CAA worked with a consultancy that has experience with imaging systems and decided to implement a FileNet application-branded now as FileNet's ECM solution-as its new imaging and workflow application in the claims area. "We had a lot of knowledge about imaging and we were motivated. We also chose FileNet because this was a newer product for them and they wanted a successful implementation. You could say they were motivated, too," Proudler says.

"FileNet was a good choice because they had experience converting Watermark," he adds. "As the conversion went along, I worked closely with them. While they had experience with Watermark, we had a good understanding of the relationship the image" had to the claims process.

Also, it is critical for the claims imaging system to run efficiently, Proudler asserts, because certain claims must be responded to in a certain timeframe according to insurance regulations. "In claims, imaging is a need-to-have, on the policy side it is a nice-to-have," he says, adding that the ECM has not been extended to the policy administration side yet. "In theory, we should convert all policy documents to images as soon as they come in, but we haven't been able to build a strong business case yet." Currently, documents are processed and then scanned at a later time.

"For claims adjusters it is critical that the system has ease of use," Proudler adds. "We have heavy exposure to personal injury claims and we have to respond in a number of days." The ECM solution's user interface makes managing many claims images easier for adjusters, Proudler asserts.

Full Steam Ahead

The new system includes full imaging and workflow capability, Proudler boasts. "On the claims side, all paper documents are imaged," he says. "Everything is indexed and connects with the legacy systems. We take digital pictures of cars and when the images are sent to us, FileNet links the images to the claim number." Also, Microsoft (Redmond, WA) Word documents are rendered into TIFF images and e-mail and faxes are fully integrated into the claims process. "Adjusters can e-mail copies of the entire claim file to other users. The new system can do a lot."



COMPANY: CAA Insurance (Ottawa), a division of the Canadian Automobile Association, four million members.

LINES OF BUSINESS: Auto, home and term and guaranteed life insurance.

VENDOR/TECHNOLOGY: FileNet (Costa Mesa, CA) ECM Solution.

THE CHALLENGE: Replace failing imaging system in four months.

Greg MacSweeney is editorial director of InformationWeek Financial Services, whose brands include Wall Street & Technology, Bank Systems & Technology, Advanced Trading, and Insurance & Technology. View Full Bio

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