March 16, 2011 – There are 138 large and midsize U.S. insurers highly active in the personal lines space, although others may have small personal lines books, according to Novarica analysis.

For its recent report – “Business and Technology Trends: Personal Lines” – the analyst firm gathered the expertise of Novarica’s staff, conversations with members of the Novarica Insurance Technology Research Council and a review of secondary published sources. The report indicated that the top priorities for personal lines insurers are growth strategies, expense reduction and improving underwriting results.

To address these top priorities, Novarica suggests personal lines CIOs and business executives focus on the following technologies and areas of concern, and highlights some recent activity in the areas:

Connectivity: Extending functionality to the agents continues to rise in importance. It’s less and less about differentiation and more and more just the price to pay to be in the game.

The report references Providence Mutual Fire Insurance Co., which completed the first phase in a new agent portal providing home and auto programs across seven states; new business quoting and submissions; straight-through processing for new business and referral processing for exceptions; and integration to claims history and conviction databases, property-value estimating, credit services and geo-coding distance-to-coast information

Policy: Consider upgrading your policy admin system to gain operational efficiencies and flexibility in the ability to add data. Use business rules to manage workflow and predictive analytics to build pricing models.

The report references Southern Pioneer, which implemented a new policy administration suite in order to simplify cross-company reporting and enforce consistency in underwriting policies across its lines of business.

Business Intelligence: Start with a data-quality initiative. Look at data warehousing, operational data stores and appropriate data marts. Then overlay a business intelligence tool. Predictive analytics tools for those who have sufficient data are becoming more popular.

The report references MetLife Auto & Home, which combined in-house data mining technology with a packaged BI tool to better segment their customers for its targeted cross-sell mailings.

Claims: Streamlining claims management by automating processes improves customer service by speeding up claims service, providing consistent and fair best practices to all customers, and delivering personal service.

The report references Farmers Insurance, which has implemented electronic signatures for claims settlement documents through an initiative called eZsign. Rather than shipping a package overnight to the claimant and waiting for them to return the signed papers, the entire process is conducted online.

This story originally appeared on Insurance Networking News.

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