Thornton and Partners is a market leader in the provision of loss-adjusting services to insurance companies, primarily for domestic and commercial property claims. With large volumes of claims under management at all times, an efficient case handling process is key to business success. Each insurance claim case file can comprise of a range of document types and formats -- including photos, reports, receipts and invoices -- adding a layer of complexity to core business processes. In accordance with the law and industry regulations, all insurance case file documents must be stored securely and compliantly, with a clear audit trail logging the lifecycle of each document.
Thorntons initially implemented the SoftCo R8 platform in 2009, to deliver an automated case management solution for all its paper-based claims documents. "Before implementing R8, all our case management processes were manual and paper-based," says David Hickey, IT Director of Thornton and Partners. "As a business we were reliant on physical case files; we had limited visibility of the overall adjustment process." David says the implementation of R8 allowed Thorntons to electronically capture, classify and route all claims-related documentation through a pre-defined adjustment process. "R8 facilitates collaboration and visibility of all case files throughout the business."
In late 2011, Thorntons consulted with SoftCo, seeking to extend the R8 platform to address the challenges of processing, storing and searching both inbound and outbound emails as part of the existing case management solution. A number of factors had combined to accentuate the need for greater efficiency in this area: There had been an explosion of emails from loss adjusters working in the field, emails associated with open case files were being processed manually and were difficult to retrieve, and storing email attachments was becoming complex. "All of that was time-consuming and we needed to look at automation," David says.
After consultations with SoftCo, Thornton decided to implement the SoftCo eMail Collector module on its R8 platform in January 2012. With seamless integration into Thornton's existing process, eMail Collector captures and securely archives all case-related emails as they pass through Thornton's Microsoft Exchange server, appending them to the relevant case files in R8.
Thornton’s loss adjusters have found the eMail Collector solution "revolutionary", according to Kate Gordon, Business Systems Analyst at Thornton and Partners. One senior manager who recently started using it indicated that the R8 system was saving them significant time and effort in managing their case workload.
Kate explains that some managers approve and send reports to clients and after each report was sent they used to spend several minutes archiving the correspondence. "Now they're able to do it all in one fell swoop, it's significantly reducing the time spent generating reports." Kate says that some managers might approve 30 or 40 reports a day. "It really adds up over a week."
A further advantage of the system is the time it saves loss adjusters working in the field. These staff members travel around the country assessing the damage to property on behalf of insurance companies ‒ a process that involves capturing a lot of photographic evidence and sending it to the office for documentation and archiving. Now, staff can use eMail Collector when sending photos to the office, ensuring that all claims evidence is immediately stored and archived.
In addition, some staff who use smartphones to capture photographic evidence can email the photos straight from their devices to eMail Collector, saving even more time and accelerating the documentation process.
Support for the eMail Collector and R8 solutions is not something that Thorntons needs to worry about, according to Kate. "The reason we chose SoftCo is because they're the market leader in Business Process Automation Solutions. Their support response times are excellent. They're very available and very much have a can-do attitude."
The biggest challenge facing the loss adjustment industry today, according to Kate, is finding the most efficient way to adjust and manage claims, and to use the best technology available to enhance that process. "Plus, managing the audit processes and outcomes - that's where SoftCo helps. We now have a much more effective electronic file than ever before."
Kate GordonBusiness Systems Analyst Thornton & Partners