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Farmers Alliance Automates Claims

P&C carrier implements AcroSoft's AcroSure solution to electronically capture and route claims documents.

By: Johannah Rodgers

Seeking to reduce the costs of claims processing and improve customer service for policyholders, Lowell Schmidt, chief information officer and vice president, Farmers Alliance Mutual ($162 million in assets, McPherson, KS), went looking for a claims workflow solution that was both tailored to the insurance industry and cost effective.

"There are a wide range of workflow systems out there," says Schmidt, "and because of their potential value in terms of business-process cost savings, some of them are quite expensive." Working with a tight budget and hoping to find a system that fit in well with existing hardware and software solutions, including a suite of CSC (Austin, TX) applications, Schmidt and his team ultimately selected Columbia, SC-based AcroSoft Corp.'s AcroSure solution as one that provided significant functionality andhigh value.

Prior to the 2002 implementation of the AcroSure solution (a suite of modules that electronically captures and routes documents, and provides rules-based instructions for processing and filing documentation), Famers Alliance processed all incoming and outgoing claims on paper. Now, paper claims are scanned when they are received, and claims received via fax or e-mail are automatically captured as electronic documents. Claims adjusters and claims managers are then able to move claims electronically from desk to desk and office to office.

Initial Apprehension

The approximately 70 users of the application had some initial apprehension about the system, according to Schmidt, but have generally adapted to it. User training was an important part of the AcroSure implementation, which took just over six months to complete.

Running on Microsoft (Redmond, WA) Windows NT servers, the AcroSure suite is accessible via PCs running everything from Windows 95 to Windows XP. A client/server application that was written in C and C++, AcroSure currently uses a DB2 database for document storage. Support for SQL Server and Oracle databases are slated for future releases of the product, as is support for enhanced Web features. ISIS Papyrus (Southlake, TX) scanners were the only additional hardware purchased as part of the AcroSure solution implementation.

Although a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis of the AcroSure solution is still pending, Schmidt points to several immediate upsides to the implementation. "It used to take four to seven days of surface mail time to send claims to remote adjusters and agents. We now have same-day access," notes Schmidt. In addition, the ability for multiple users to access claims information simultaneously increases efficiency and customer service. Schmidt also pointed to the ability to gather and analyze claims processing information by type of claim and adjuster as another benefit of the system.

"AcroSure may be an economical solution," according to Dick Greene, sales manager, AcroSoft, "but it is not less robust than other workflow solutions. We have optimized value for our insurance customers by tailoring features to the unique needs of insurance-based business processes." An example of such insurance-specific features, according to Greene, is an adherence to strict regulatory guidelines.

"We've been very pleased with the functionality, reliability and flexibility of AcroSoft's solution," says Schmidt, who plans to implement AcroSure in Farmers Alliance's underwriting department. "The product has been easy to use and we've been very pleased with our ability to work with the AcroSoft team on training and implementation."


Case Study Closeup

COMPANY: Farmers Alliance Mutual Insurance Company, McPherson, KS; $162 million in assets.

LINES OF BUSINESS: P&C (home, auto, business, farm).

VENDOR/TECHNOLOGY: AcroSoft Corp.'s (Columbia, SC) AcroSure solution; ISIS Papyrus (Southlake, TX) scanners.

THE CHALLENGE: Find an economical solution that will automate a paper-based claims processing system.

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