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Main Street America SVP Lancashire Partners With Internal IT Team and Key Vendors to Compete With National Insurers

The Jacksonville, Fla.-based super regional carrier's head of claims and integrated customer solutions is partnering with IT and external technology providers to achieve consistency, efficiency and improved service.

When Mike Lancashire, head of Main Street America Group's (Jacksonville, Fla.) claims and integrated customer solutions, meets with the company's independent agents to ask them their claim service expectations, chances are that they'll refer to functionality standards set by large national carriers. Following his promotion to senior VP this month, Lancashire told Insurance & Technology that technology was critical to achieving his organization's most important business goals.

"Our agents are quoting the same business on our technology as that of the large national carriers, so we need to be competitive," Lancashire says. "Agents want ease of use and low cost, and they migrate to carriers with the best technology."

Lancashire is responsible for Main Street America's corporate and regional claims functions, as well as the super regional carrier's national claims reporting center in Auburn, Mass. He also oversees Main Street America's claim quality, customer and policyholder service, reserving, expenses and regulatory compliance. He joined Main Street America in 2003 as a technical director after a 17-year claims-focused career at Kemper Insurance, and in 2006 he became VP of claims. Two years later he took on leadership of the carrier's integrated customer solutions unit, which includes customer service, the MSA Service Center, policy processing and premium services.

Among Lancashire's most important objectives is to achieve consistency across all agent- and policyholder-facing claims and service capabilities, he says. "Given the head count in the areas I manage, there's also a strong expense component, so my goals are to improve efficiency, lower cost and improve service."

Main Street America was one of the first adopters of Guidewire's (San Mateo, Calif.) ClaimCenter claim system, but Lancashire acknowledges that the carrier still has some distance to go to reach the strong technology standard set by leading insurance carriers. "We have had the web-based system in place since 2005, and we continue to refine that, building more business rules into the system," Lancashire reports. "In 2010 we upgraded to ClaimCenter 5.0 and converted all of legacy claims files into the system."

During 2011 Main Street America will begin an enterprise-wide deployment of Vertafore's ImageRight document management system within claims. The carrier will leverage the technology through its affiliation with Indianapolis-based Grain Dealers Mutual. "We took operational control of Grain Dealers last year, so it's a company with a strong franchise that sells our products and services through its established network of independent agents in several new states for us, including Indiana and Mississippi," Lancashire explains. "Grain Dealers has an ImageRight license, and it's our strategy to expand that license onto Claim Center. It will be an enterprise solution, but claims will be the first department to go up."

Lancashire will also oversee the future implementation of VoIP telephony. "We have adjusters working out of homes and multiple field locations, and to have all that staff on the same phone system will give us greater ease in transferring phone calls, streamlining business processes and improving service," Lancashire says.

Another goal is the continued integration of ClaimCenter with vendor systems. "We've built several of these already but will be looking to interface with others including medical bill review, auto appraisal and property adjuster assignment."

One of Lancashire's most important long-term objectives is to embed state-of-the-art analytical cabilities across Main Street America's claims department. "My two areas of focus will be in claim assignment and litigation," he comments. "Today it's widely used for SIU and subrogation, but I want to expand it to ensure that the right file gets to the right adjuster from the beginning, and that we can use analytics to identify cases with the propensity to go to litigation."

Technology will also be key for both the claims and integrated customer solutions organizations to provide greater self-service for users. "Whether by smart phone apps, or web access to billing or claims systems, we want to provide the user with the means to get the information they need," Lancashire says.

Lancashire says he will depend on a strong relationship with Main Street America CIO Ron James's office and external partners to see his departments' initiatives through. "Our situation is a little different than some carriers because roughly 60 percent of our development is outsourced," he explains. So in addition to our IT partners, we have a collaborative relationship with our developer CapGemini -- it truly is a partnership between the three organizations."

"Probably the best way to sum up how closely I work with Ron is that he is staffing management-level IT positions and I'm a member of the interviewing team," Lancashire adds. "Our IT governance process fosters very strong partnership and collaboration."

Anthony O'Donnell has covered technology in the insurance industry since 2000, when he joined the editorial staff of Insurance & Technology. As an editor and reporter for I&T and the InformationWeek Financial Services of TechWeb he has written on all areas of information ... View Full Bio

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