Insurance & Technology is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.


11:13 AM
Lori Widmer
Lori Widmer
Connect Directly

Claims: National farm union adds remote functionality

Connecting to the remote areas of its clientele, National Farmers Union finds added benefits to Internet-based processing as a replacement for an AS/400 legacy system.

Implementing a claims processing solution is challenging enough without having a customer base spread throughout rural America. For National Farmers Union Property and Casualty Co. (NFU; Aurora, Colo.), a provider of property and liability insurance to rural customers, the opportunity to streamline its claims process presented itself in the form of Internet-based claims filing.

NFU ($180 million in annual premium income) senior vice president of claims Chris Kircher was saddled with an old AS/400 system that he says prevented the company from improving its processes or workflow. "We couldn't even add any more codes - we couldn't move our system ahead," he relates. So Kircher decided to upgrade the system.

The goal was to create a central location for claims information and improve adjusters' productivity and effectiveness, Kircher says. He also wanted to make the jobs of staff located in remote offices easier. Interfacing with vendors was a top priority for the company, which hoped to cut its manual paper processing to a minimum. NFU also wanted to make information instantly available to managers and adjusters, so they could make decisions more quickly. Finally, Kircher hoped to change employee behavior, to have his adjusters and managers "work more proactively" toward developing business.

Going Online

In October 2003, Kircher began seeking a solution that was robust enough to handle the company's growing business lines and was easy enough to use that adjusters working in remote areas could train themselves on the system without IT support. During the selection process, Kircher relied on research from NFU's parent company, Boston-based OneBeacon (approximately $320 million in annual revenue), which had recently upgraded its claims processing system. Kircher ultimately selected Bridium's (Atlanta) Claims3 Internet application in December 2003 for its ease of use and remote access capabilities.

Kircher reports that there were few glitches in the implementation. Initially, however, a key component was missing: a project manager. "The difficulties were the coordination of NFU's IT, claims and finance departments, as well as working with Bridium," he explains. Kircher brought in a project manager from IT, though, and the initiative went smoothly afterward. "For putting in a new system, I thought it was pretty easy," he notes.

The solution was completed in eight months, by August 2004. The Claims3 application worked well with National Farmers Union's existing AS/400 platform, Kircher reports.

Ongoing Improvement

Since NFU went live with the Claims3 application in August, it has not yet quantified the project's ROI. "When we rolled this out, we also rolled out an entirely new set of claims handling guidelines, so our people were doing work a whole different way" - which made it difficult, Kircher explains, to measure the application's performance accurately. However, he relates, user feedback has been positive, and the system has brought the company into the modern age.

Kircher is satisfied that his original goals have been met. "Our long-term strategy is to change our overall platform, and this will allow us to do that without it being a big deal," he says. In the meantime, Kircher says he continually tests the system's functionality and ease of use with user groups and gathers feedback on their experiences. Refining the application is an ongoing process, he notes, but one that ultimately will make managers' and adjustors' jobs easier.


Case Study Profile


National Farmers Union Property and Casualty (Aurora, Colo.;

$180 million in annual premium income).

Lines Of Business

Property and liability insurance, personal and farm lines.


Bridium's Claims3 Internet-based multiline claims processing application.

The Challenge

Implement claims system with improved process and workflow, and remote capability.

Register for Insurance & Technology Newsletters