When you process thousands of forms per year, the costs of paper handling, mailing or faxing, data entry and associated errors and delays can really add up. Insurer Farmers Home Mutual estimated its cost for manually processing auto, boat, home, renters and flood insurance applications at $22 per policy. With 27,000 applications submitted through 1,500 independent agents each year, processing costs exceeded $500,000 a year.
To cut cost and speed the application process, Farmers implemented elements of Adobe's Intelligent Document Platform in early 2004. The company's independent agents in Minnesota, Utah, Nevada and Washington now submit policy applications through Web-based forms designed and stored on the Adobe platform. Built-in intelligence features enable shared data such as name and address information to be automatically populated across all forms required for a given application. All required fields must be filled before the forms can be submitted, and built-in validations ensure that the data is entered in the appropirate field.
Once the applications are submitted, the XML data is automatically exported to Farmers' central client database, eliminating a second, error-prone data entry step. Farmers has also implemented the Adobe platform's output capabilities, so PDF-based enrollment forms populated with the customer's data can be instantly sent back to the broker to be printed and signed. Once the application is reviewed and approved, the system can also generate personalized policy booklets with the specific terms and conditions of the insured's policy.
Farmers won't disclose its expenditures, but Adobe's Form Server starts at $35,000 per server.
"We now process applications as much as 70 percent faster," stated Frank Raasch, Farmers' enterprise technology manager. "The automated system reduced our administrative costs by more than half a million dollars annually ... and we minimize errors by eliminating the need to manually key information into databases."