Despite adopting an address-cleansing solution in 2003, Consumers Insurance continued to see its bottom line eroded by returned mail. "The tool's granularity was modest, and agents could override invalid-address warnings," explains James Sullivan, CIO of the Murfreesboro, Tenn.-based insurer. "Due to the various inaccuracies this caused, our premium leakage was becoming unacceptable. And the solution didn't handle claims, so returned mail in our claims department grew to require a half-day per week of administrative time by late 2007."
Although Consumers ($45 million in premium income) spent several years scouring trade shows for an appropriate replacement, the P&C carrier was unsuccessful -- until Boston-based Experian QAS introduced Consumers in April 2008 to the vendor's QAS Pro Web solution. "QAS [formerly known as QuickAddress] was clearly superior to the other [solutions] we'd investigated," Sullivan recalls. "During the demo we requested a 30-day trial and had a working model running on one of our Web pages the same day."
In fact the test version of QAS Pro Web performed so well in Consumers' Windows Server-enabled Dell (Round Rock, Texas) shop that the insurer cut the trial period short and green-lighted a full rollout, Sullivan reports. Of Consumers' eight-person IT staff, he adds, only one developer was needed to integrate QAS across both policy and claims systems, with no other resource investments required.
"Starting with claims, Ajax development tools were used to create the platform," Sullivan relates. "Within about 10 working days -- well ahead of our June rollout goal -- QAS was fully integrated in claims, including across all related Web pages. Not surprisingly, we saw an immediate drop in returned mail. Three months later, claims wasn't receiving any returned mail at all. Claims resolution metrics improved significantly, including customer satisfaction with timely payments."
Following the claims deployment, QAS Pro Web was rolled out to underwriting in July. "We enabled QAS across all 50 policy service pages, twice the number our previous solution allowed," Sullivan states. "Not only was the solution well-received by our agents, but the interface is so intuitive that we shut off the override function altogether. Now we always have an accurate address at the unit level, whereas our previous solution's granularity was limited to the building level, which was frequently insufficient."
Since completing a full data scrub in September 2008, according to Sullivan, Consumers has watched the benefits roll in. "We've removed a stumbling block to achieving competitive advantage," he asserts. "Issue resolution calls to customer service calls have fallen while agents are turning to us for quotes more often because our portal is now accurate, streamlined and easy to use."
Up next is the addition of QAS Pro Web's county verification capability, which Consumers expects tp complete during the first quarter of 2009. When finished, QAS Pro Web will automatically verify an applicant's county based on address. "With this capability we expect to cut premium leakage completely," Sullivan says. "Later, during Q2, we'll integrate QAS' latitude/longitude functionality with our [Microsoft] SQL database. This will assist our risk platform with accurately estimating location-related risk. In underwriting, we anticipate improvements in effectively rating policies. In claims, lat/long capability will drive catastrophe modeling and enhance our response planning. In short, we expect these features to help reduce overhead while increasing customer satisfaction and retention."
Going forward, Sullivan hopes QAS Pro Web can deliver more real-time information. "Presently QAS uses data from the post office," explains Sullivan. "This means a lag in receiving correct address information whenever there is new construction, such as in suburban areas or during urban redevelopment. However, this is a minor issue by comparison. In fact, of all the vendor solution integrations I've managed over the years, QAS was by far the easiest and most complete. I can't say enough about the relationship we have with QAS or the success of the outcome."
case study profile
company: Consumers Insurance (Murfreesboro, Tenn.; $45 million in premium income).
lines of business: P&C, commercial and personal.
vendor/technology: Experian QAS' (a division of London-based Experian) name and street address verification solution.
challenge: Cut operating costs by improving address verification.
Anne Rawland Gabriel is a technology writer and marketing communications consultant based in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area. Among other projects, she's a regular contributor to UBM Tech's Bank Systems & Technology, Insurance & Technology and Wall Street & Technology ... View Full Bio