Building Better Connections

By Samuel Greengard Print this article Print

Insurance company Chubb Group has a sophisticated online collaboration system--for documents, claims and real-time data-- that is the foundation for sharing information with agents and provides the company with a competitive advantage. Chubb's propietary system uses EDI (electronic data interchange), takes advantage of customizable data feeds, and most importantly, has improved an agent's ability to serve customer needs quickly and accurately.

Building Better Connections

One thing that makes the collaboration platform so powerful, Puglio says, is the ability for agents and brokers to customize their data feed and obtain information in a format that suits them. One agent might choose to receive policy downloads electronically, while another might opt for billing and commission details online. Still others might use all the available options.

Using EDI, Chubb Group connects the agent’s systems to tables residing on an IBM DB2 mainframe. The application platform is compliant with ACORD, an insurance industry standard designed to facilitate data sharing across companies and systems.

For agents, it’s all fairly straightforward. After the agent selects the desired data elements, the software connects to the central database and requests the specified files, which are downloaded into a secure central mailbox. The entire process takes place automatically and transparently.

“When agents arrive at the office in the morning, they’ve got the most up-to-date claims information at their fingertips,” Dodson explains. “The information is presented to them, and they are ready to act on it.”

Because approximately 90 percent of the Chubb Group’s agents use one of two agency management systems—and the company has tapped into EDI since the late 1980s—developing the system was a fairly straightforward process. Nevertheless, Dodson says that getting the entire industry on the same page with the ACORD standard has proven to be challenging.

“We have a solid foundation in place, but we are still working with other agency software vendors to adopt the standards,” Dodson says. “With the standards, it’s like flipping on a switch: We’re ready to go.”

Another challenge has been spurring widespread adoption. Despite the clear advantages of using a near real-time system, some agents have been slow to adopt the technology. Others have had to obtain additional site licenses and upgrade agency management software, which can require a fairly significant investment.

Finally, IT initially had to set up test systems to improve the data quality and ensure that agents were getting the specific information they needed when they needed it. “There was a lot of data work that went on before we could go live with the system,” Puglio explains.

So far, a few hundred of the firm’s U.S. agents have adopted the platform, but the numbers are growing rapidly. “More of them are coming online every day,” Dodson reports.

Chubb Group has planned additional improvements, including the ability to receive real-time alerts for particular cases or scenarios, such as when an adjuster has finished reviewing a case or when any activity has occurred on a certain account. The company is also considering a Web-based dashboard interface that would provide a snapshot of various activities and indicators.

Chubb Group is marching forward with its collaboration-based e-business initiatives. It has captured three major industry awards for its e-business systems, and Dodson believes the company has only begun to tap into available opportunities.

“We’re putting information in agents’ hands so they can manage their work—and ours—faster and more proactively,” she observes. “We are build-ing on the brand name and, ultimately, helping customers receive better service and support.”

This article was originally published on 2008-11-26
Samuel Greengard is a freelance writer for Baseline.
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