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Safeco Launches Real-time Policy Change

Safeco rolls out a Web-based tool allowing agents to make instant changes to commercial auto policies.

Safeco (Seattle; 2005 total assets of $14.9 billion) is in the process of rolling out an online tool that will allow independent agents to make changes to clients' commercial auto policies. The carrier decided to develop Policy Change in October of last year to cut the seven days it took to complete a policy change and make the process real time.

"The previous endorsement process took a lot of time. The agent had to communicate the changes to the underwriter by e-mail or fax, and then it was routed to a policy service professional and then changes are made to the policy," says Brian Ruddy, assistant vice president of Safeco Risk Services.

Safeco also anticipates Policy Change will cut costs for the company and its agents while improving accuracy. "We expect that it will save costs, improve the quality of our work and overall it will be easier for agents," says Ruddy.

To design the tool, Safeco asked for feedback from the Safeco National Agent Advisory Council, the insurer's agency group. "Our greatest challenge was that there was no defined agency model for building a tool that all agents could use, but with agents' feedback we were able to come up with one tool that everyone can use," says Ruddy.

The carrier started work on integrating the Policy Change tool into Safeco Now, its Web-based sales-and-service portal, in January 2006. Safeco Now is built on a proprietary framework developed using Microsoft (Redmond, Wash.) .NET. The applications are hosted on a highly scaleable Web server using MS Server 2003. Communication between vendor and other external systems, such as databases, are handled primarily through Web services and XML.

Safeco launched Policy Change for commercial auto in 10 states last week. Rollout of the tool to the carrier's 9,000 independent agents will end in November, according to Ruddy. Similar endorsement tools are already available for Safeco personal insurance lines, including auto and home insurance policies.

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