Editors' Cuts

Going Green Isn’t Just About Paper

Pat Speer
Insurance Experts' Forum, November 1, 2012

There’s a lot of pressure on insurers across all lines of business to do the “green thing” and reduce the use of paper. It’s not just admirable from a save-the-forest point of view, but done right, it speaks to efficiencies and improved customer service levels previously considered elusive to the industry.

For any insurance IT executive feeling this pressure, there is also a sense of urgency. When the CEO asks, “can we be paperless by 2014,” he/she is not expecting 'no' for an answer.

I’ve been told that the concept of going paperless sometimes takes workers who are not in IT a little longer to process. They compare it to such things as coming home to decaying steaks in the freezer after a power outage. “You can’t control that the power goes out, sometimes you don’t even know it’s out and, by the time you get home to figure it out, it’s too late,” one agency representative told me.

The same might be said for a flood or fire that destroys a warehouse full of policyholder records, or the error made by an IT tech that nullifies the insurer’s power protection system, installed just in time for the worst lightning storm on record and a power surge that destroys the insurer’s most valuable data stores.

So from a risk management perspective, would proper planning (and the funds to purchase and put in place an automatic generator) make the freezer analogy moot?

Actually, like any undertaking that has the potential to result in costly catastrophes, applying a risk management perspective to your digital initiatives seems like a logical path to follow. In its most basic form, it’s a “plan your work and work your plan” scenario, notes Anil Chacko, VP, Technology at First Rehab Life.

“If you jump into a digital project without a lot of thought and planning, you may find it’s too late to change course,” he says. It’s also critical to involve stakeholders from both IT and the business side who can help facilitate workflow changes and advocate for the project’s success.

Chacko believes if a project like this feels risky, it probably is, but that’s because it’s not just about converting existing paper that is constantly being generated. “It’s about changing how people—sometimes reluctant people—work, how they rely on information, how they access it. So the plan has to cover everything, from existing to projected or predicted.”

It also doesn’t have to feel overwhelming. Chacko is on track to keep his promise to take his organization paperless by 2014. “We have all these documents we are producing, but with all the other demands on IT on a day-to-day basis, there is a risk that the digital initiative can become a secondary priority,” he says. “You need to set time aside each day to deal with this.”

Pat Speer is an editorial consultant for Insurance Networking News.

Readers are encouraged to respond to Pat by using the “Add Your Comments” box below. Shealso can be reached at patricia.speer@sourcemedia.com.

This blog was exclusively written for Insurance Networking News. It may not be reposted or reused without permission from Insurance Networking News.

Comments (0)

Be the first to comment on this post using the section below.

Add Your Comments...

Already Registered?

If you have already registered to Insurance Networking News, please use the form below to login. When completed you will immeditely be directed to post a comment.

Forgot your password?

Not Registered?

You must be registered to post a comment. Click here to register.

Blog Archive

Trends in P&C and L/H/A Policy Administration Systems

Novarica research shows that nearly 40 percent of P&C and life/health/annuity carriers are currently replacing or planning to replace a policy administration system.

Product Configurators: Moving Insurers toward Self-Sufficiency

Insurers may like a vendorís full service model for updating policy content rules, but they donít want to be held captive if the vendor doesnít offer fast speed-to-market.

How Quote Data Can Deliver Powerful Business Insights

Quote data often is disregarded due to its volume, but properly managed can offer insights into product and pricing strategy, expense control, cross selling and upselling.

Insurers: Let's Be The Best

I donít like when insurance companies are hectored by people inside or outside of the industry about how they arenít innovative. Many insurers are leading the way in gleaning real results from emerging technology disciplines, including big data, analytics, mobile technology, and telematics.

6 Crucial Guidelines for Digital Insurers

Going digital isnít just something that can be accomplished by decree. It takes finesse to keep everything in sync.

Top Stories in Property/Casualty

Novarica Commentaries are available to clients only, but weíve posted direct links to some of the most important stories below.