The automation of time-consuming manual processes has unlocked ever-increasing levels of efficiency for businesses across the insurance industry. At Perr&Knight, we have long recognized the value of offloading process-heavy tasks to machines in order to free up actuaries, agents, and filing teams to focus on tasks requiring human judgment.
Let’s take a look at how our own automation evolution has opened up greater efficiencies internally, as well as for our clients.
Anyone who has been in the insurance industry a few decades shudders to think of the inefficient early process of obtaining publicly available insurance company filings from the Department of Insurance for competitive analysis.
Perr&Knight was the first in the industry to aggregate these filings on RateFilings.com. In the early days, we physically sent someone down to the state department of insurance (DOI) building, equipped with a scanner. The rep would spend all day buried in the stacks, scanning documents until the job was done. From there, the person would head back to our office and transfer the scanned PDFs to the Data Entry Department, then spend hours manually entering metadata into the database. The average number of documents that could be entered per day was capped at about thirty per person.
Around 2005-06, NAIC launched the System for Electronic Rates & Forms Filing (SERFF), which greatly reduced the number of paper filings requiring scanning. SERFF also standardized many formats, further streamlining the process by increasing the uniformity of filing requirements.
As DOIs posted publicly-available filings to their websites, we did less scanning and more and more downloading – itself an important time-saver. The new downloadable, standardized SERFF format enabled our Data Entry department to copy and paste data instead of manually typing it out, further increasing accuracy and speed.
The massive breakthrough in automation came in 2008, when we developed “The Auto-Indexer,” a PDF parsing software program that could read a PDF document and copy and paste the data from the PDF directly to our RateFilings.com database.
Now, instead of entering the data, our human staff member was tasked only with auditing and validating that the data entered by the system was correct. Though all filings were reviewed by human eyes, the computer could automatically process straightforward filings as long as there were no errors. Complicated, high-priority filings received closer scrutiny from our staff.
With this advancement, productivity skyrocketed by 1,000%. We could now complete up to 300 rate filings per day per person, instead of a mere thirty.
Perr&Knight’s StateFilings.com shares a similar history, but took automation even further. When StateFilings.com was launched in 2003, we would manually enter filings, objections, responses, and all correspondence into the system. Then we used similar parsing technology from the Auto Indexer to automate much of the data entry.
Further building on our process, Perr&Knight began talking with the NAIC, ultimately becoming the first vendor to integrate a new RESTful API developed by the NAIC into our StateFilings.com software.
Not only did this drastically reduce the amount of uploading and manual labor required to enter data, but the updates were virtually instant. The API also gave us easy access to granular filing data. For example, forms and rules could now be broken out from the filings. As such, Perr&Knight was the first company with an automated, real-time forms library and rule library.
Our clients could now access and search DOI documents and company forms instantly from any web-enabled device. The fees our clients paid to license the software were offset by time savings and ease of searching and segmenting data from a single, cloud-based location.
In the coming years, we envision increased use of automation for two-way data exchange.
As of right now, using the SERFF API, we have the ability to extract data from the DOI websites, but the information flow is limited to one direction. With two-way integration, we’ll begin to automate the filing creation process. Imagine one-click Bureau adoption filings and auto-generated actuarial support for rate change filings.
Perr&Knight is continuing to develop software tools that will ultimately become a bridge between Statefilings.com and an insurance company’s IT systems thus eliminating the need for manual handoff and reducing the chance of errors.
Working with rate filing teams, actuaries, and IT departments, we’re developing and brainstorming new software and systems that offload more time-consuming burdens to machines, so valuable human teams can direct their focus where it’s needed most.