Empowering Insurance Carriers and Program Managers with StateFilings.com

In the contemporary insurance landscape, insurance carriers are often looking to expand into niche or specialized markets without needing to develop their own in-house expertise. However, often they lack the skill set, distribution networks, and/or local knowledge required to tap into these unique markets effectively. This is where ‘Program Managers’ step in as essential partners in the insurance industry.

Program Managers often specialize in specific lines of insurance or industry segments, which allows carriers to access these markets more effectively. Program Managers are entrusted with underwriting multiple insurance policies on behalf of the insurance companies they collaborate with, allowing them to evaluate price risks, issue policies, and make decisions about policy terms and conditions. This collaborative relationship unlocks a world of opportunities for insurance carriers, enabling them to expand their market reach without the need to build and maintain their own distribution networks.

As a result, insurance carriers are often faced with the challenge of effectively managing the diverse range of program managers also sometimes referred to as ‘Managing General Agents (MGAs)’. On the flip side, program managers grapple with the distinct challenge of gaining comprehensive access to an array of filings, forms, and rules that are pertinent to the numerous insurance carriers with whom they collaborate.

Unleashing Streamlined Capabilities for Enhanced Insurance Management

Acknowledging this pressing need, StateFilings.com has emerged as a game-changer in the industry, providing a cutting-edge insurance state filings software that solves the challenges of program managers and insurance carriers that result from their unique relationships. As an industry leader for rate, rule, and form filings, StateFilings.com’s secure web-based application offers a user-friendly interface that centralizes essential information, offering access to projects, filings, forms, rates/rules, and activities across all authorized accounts.

By utilizing StateFilings.com, insurance carriers, and program managers gain unparalleled insights and comprehensive tools to facilitate insurance management on behalf of their clients. Here are some of the key functionalities that StateFilings.com offers to empower program managers and insurance carriers within the insurance state filings software platform.

Benefits for Insurance Carriers

  1. Project Organization: On StateFilings.com, filings are organized by project. A project can include multiple states and lines of business associated with a single program. This structure enables insurance carriers to provide program managers access exclusively to the specific projects associated with their programs. During project creation, insurance carriers have the ability to select the projects to which program managers should be granted access. This ensures seamless collaboration and an organized workflow. In contrast, SERFF does not categorize filings by projects, introducing an extra layer of complexity to the collaboration process.
  2. Proactive Email Notification: Automated submission, approval, and objection notifications are dispatched to insurance company employees and program managers with filing access, ensuring they receive real-time updates on project and filing activities. This allows insurance company personnel to monitor program filings in the insurance state filing software while relieving them of the burden of keeping program managers informed.
  3. Robust Search Engine: StateFilings.com features a robust search engine, providing insurance company employees and program managers with quick access to relevant information. However, this functionality comes with a built-in safeguard – program managers can only search for items to which they have access, ensuring data integrity. This feature not only enhances efficiency but also maintains security by limiting access to authorized data, safeguarding sensitive information, and ensuring compliance with data privacy regulations.
  4. Comprehensive Access to Forms and Rate/Rule Library: The insurance state filings software interface offers insurance company employees access to their extensive library of forms and rate/rules along with a user-friendly search feature. The ability to search by various criteria like states, dates, and TOIs empowers company personnel with the information they need at their fingertips, facilitating faster decision-making by reducing the time and effort required to find pertinent resources.

Benefits for Program Managers

  1. Unified Login: Each program manager is granted a single, unique login with read-only access to their designated projects which can be selected from multiple insurance carriers. This personalized approach ensures that program managers can efficiently manage their responsibilities without having to rely on insurance carriers for updates on their filings. In contrast, utilizing SERFF to access filings requires program managers to manage multiple logins, one for each insurance company they collaborate with, resulting in added complexity and inefficiency within the process.
  2. Real-Time Email Alerts: Automated email notifications offer real-time project submission and approval updates to program managers, and program managers can receive automated email alerts when objections are received. This ensures that program managers can respond swiftly to any issues, ensuring project progress stays on track and reducing delays.
  3. Empowering Search Engine: The search engine facilitates easy access to projects, filings, objections, forms, and rules, enhancing program managers’ efficiency. Restricting search capabilities to only accessible items maintains data integrity and security, ensuring that program managers can confidently work within their designated programs.
  4. Tailored Access to Forms and Rate/Rule Library: This feature empowers program managers to access the approved materials for their specific programs, providing an organized view of both countrywide and state-specific versions of forms. This feature simplifies resource management, supports compliance, and streamlines decision-making.

The featured functionalities of the insurance state filings software hold immense significance for both insurance carriers and program managers, directly addressing critical challenges within the insurance industry.

In this new era of insurance management, StateFilings.com stands out as the go-to solution, providing program managers and insurance carriers with the tools they need to navigate the dynamic landscape and thrive in a competitive market. The platform’s commitment to excellence and customer-centricity cements its position as an invaluable asset to program managers, insurance carriers, and the entire insurance ecosystem.

Contact us to see a demo of our insurance state filings software: StateFilings.com.

10 Questions to Ask a State Filings System Vendor

Authors: Patrick Light and Dana Pagliarulo, PMP, PMI-ACP

When it comes to choosing a state filings system vendor, it’s important to do your due diligence and ask the right questions. After all, your state filings system is a critical part of your business, and you want to get the best possible functionality, service, and support.

Here are 10 questions to ask a state filings system vendor:

1. Does the system vendor have a full-time Chief Technology Officer (“CTO”)?

Having a dedicated full-time CTO on staff is a sign that the vendor takes state filings technology seriously and has the expertise to provide a strategic vision and high-quality service and support.

2. Is the system vendor SOC 2 Type 2 certified?

SOC 2 Type 2 certification is important for software vendors because it provides a level of assurance to their customers that the vendor has implemented effective controls to ensure the security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy of their systems and data.

SOC 2 Type 2 is a rigorous auditing standard developed by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants that requires companies to demonstrate that they have established and followed strict information security policies and procedures. The Type 2 certification requires the vendor to demonstrate that their controls have been in place and operating effectively for a minimum of six months.

By obtaining SOC 2 Type 2 certification, software vendors can demonstrate to their customers that they take the security and privacy of their customers’ data seriously and have implemented appropriate safeguards to protect it. This can be especially important for vendors that handle sensitive data, such as financial or trade secret information, as it can help to build trust and confidence in their services.

3. Does the state filings system vendor have adequate staff to deliver enhancements?

It’s important to ensure the vendor has enough staff to handle ongoing enhancements and improvements to the system. This will ensure that your system remains up-to-date and meets your evolving needs.

4. Does the system vendor provide a customizable system?

A customizable state filings system can help you tailor the system to meet your specific needs and preferences. Individual insurance companies have processes tailored to their best efficiencies. Ensure that the vendor provides this feature including custom fields and configurable workflows.

5. Does the system vendor support bureau-based products?

Insurance Services Office and American Association of Insurance Services are rating bureaus (to name a few) that offer products that are constantly evolving. Having tools at your fingertips to assist with monitoring circular changes, and streamlining the adoption process can save money and get your products to market in a compliant fashion faster. Monitoring of bureau circulars specific to those that are underwritten by your company and quickly integrating them into filings is a feature that should not be overlooked. Inquire how this process is handled by the vendor and look for as much automation as possible and how many touch points are required by your staff. Lower touch points and higher automation are a win.

6. Does the system vendor support program business?

Fronting companies and Program Managers have unique needs when it comes to organizing and querying filings, forms, and rules. Fronting companies need access to projects and filings for its various Program Managers. At the same time, Program Managers may need access to filings from the various fronting companies they use to write business. Make sure your system vendor is capable of handling these complex queries and the various types of access so your data is organized, easy to access, and only provides access to users where required.

7. Does the system vendor integrate with external software and tools?

Integration with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (“NAIC”) System for Electronic Rates & Forms Filing (“SERFF”) via an Application Programming Interface ensures direct communication between your filing team and the individual state filing analysts/reviewers. In addition to integration with SERFF make sure your system vendor can integrate with your internal systems via API’s and Web Hooks. Ask to see a list of third-party products and services that the vendor currently integrates with and the type of integration (e.g., push, pull).

Additional integrations may fit your company’s work culture, such as Microsoft Teams, to encourage more real-time inter-team communication.

8. Does the system vendor integrate with industry standard Single Sign-On (SSO)?

With all of the internal and external tools and applications used in a modern workforce, tracking multiple passwords and being slowed down by login screens is a pain point many companies are looking to remove. Single Sign-On is the current mainstream solution to this providing authentication at the corporate level and passing authentication tokens to external applications, like a state filing tracking system. Be sure your system vendor currently supports SSO or at least has it in their roadmap.

9. Does the system vendor keep up with changing workflows and requirements with the state filing process?

Building software applications is as much about the analysis of the business as it is about technology. It is important that the vendor has first-hand knowledge about the workflow and filing approval process, enabling the vendor to utilize this information to develop an accurate and streamlined experience. Although a vendor could build and maintain an application without such experience, the precision could be lower and time to implement could be longer. Seek a vendor who processes state filings and uses the system themselves for the best possible support.

10. Does the system vendor provide functionality and support beyond what you get within SERFF?

For decades, NAIC’s SERFF has provided basic functionality required to submit and track state filings. An alternative state filing system must provide important value-add features to the process that drives efficiency and simplicity. Some examples of value-add features include, but are not limited to, robust reporting, dashboards, enhanced form/rule/filing templates, a robust notification engine and an at-a-glance project/state status.

Perr&Knight satisfies or exceeds all 10 items outlined above. Learn more with a live demo.

Contact us to schedule your demo.

Technology Tools to Optimize Your State Filings Process

By Patrick Light and Khushboo Jashnani

Though submitting and tracking state filings has improved dramatically over the last decade, many insurance companies are not yet taking full advantage of state filings software and technology that could further improve efficiency and visibility.

Many processes are still locked in emails and Excel spreadsheets on individual computers, decreasing visibility for business partners and other stakeholders. In addition, the lack of a standardized, centralized, and easily accessible repository for state filings increases the workload on insurance companies’ state filing teams.

As consulting and state filing support leaders for some of the nation’s top insurance companies, we have developed innovative state filings software to help our teams increase visibility and control. This industry-leading software, StateFilings.com, is available for our clients to license.

A Streamlined Workflow

StateFilings.com was designed by the state filing experts at Perr&Knight. This advanced, intuitive software streamlines the state filing workflow, enabling greater transparency, accessibility, and efficiency.

Here’s a process demonstrating how this tech-enabled workflow helps state filings departments:

Business Partner Creates a Project

Business partners have a designated role with specific permissions in StateFilings.com. Business partners are generally “read-only.” However, they can enter a new project and hand it off to the state filings unit. Business Partners cannot submit filings or add or edit any other data in the system. A business partner-specific view streamlines their ability to monitor multiple project statuses simultaneously.

Adding and Sharing Documents

Next, the business partner can add documents they want to hand off to the state filings unit. Using the project attachments feature enables the uploading of Word and Excel documents, which can be shared and edited by multiple users simultaneously. Business partners can also create a form template in the exact format that a filer would file it.

Sharing a template with business partners eliminates a manual handoff — the state filings unit can apply the template to a filing instead of re-typing the information into the system.

Read more: 5 reasons why state filings are rejected.

A Smooth, Instant Handoff

After creating the filing template and attaching relevant documents, the business partner changes the project’s status to “Submitted to Filings Unit.” From this point forward, the business partner can no longer edit the project — they are read-only. The system then automatically fires an email to the state filing unit. A state filing analyst can then accept the project and change its status to “Assigned” to begin their review.

Tracking Work in Progress

Once documentation is finalized, the state filing analyst can create filing drafts and change the project status to “Work in Progress,” indicating the filings have started. The analyst can apply templates to multiple filings simultaneously, saving time by eliminating the need to enter form data manually. The state filings software further streamlines the process by enabling analysts to submit numerous filings to SERFF at once.

Authors can include important information and track the status of each filing in real time. Each submission contains inputs for the following:

  • Filing requirements
  • Project expectations (TOI, form/rate/rule, etc.)
  • Peer review tracking and feedback notes
  • Filing submission dates
  • Objection tracking and corresponding follow-up and due dates
  • Approval communications and dates
  • And more

Automated Objection Handling

When an objection is received, built-in email functionality proactively fires an email to all authors, eliminating the need to proactively monitor SERFF. StateFilings.com stores all past objections, enabling data mining and specific information searches. Two-way integration with SERFF allows authors to issue a response directly from StateFilings.com. Consolidation of all filing-related communications saves time by eliminating the need to track down disparate emails.

Automated Approval Notifications

StateFilings.com automatically notifies authors when SERFF issues an approval. API integration enables companies to update external systems upon SERFF approval, further streamlining the workflow and supporting stakeholder visibility.

Advanced State Filings Software Improves Efficiency

Homegrown systems like Excel, email, and hard drive storage may have been cutting-edge technology in the past but are now outdated. Companies still using these non-centralized technologies compromise efficiency and increase the risk of crucial information falling through the cracks.

StateFilings.com consolidates all data to eliminate manual handoffs and improve tracking visibility. Collaboration in a shared platform enables business partners, analysts, and other stakeholders to keep current on all filings while working together toward a common goal.

See how StateFilings.com can improve your filing process. Contact the experts at Perr&Knight to schedule a state filings software demo.

Managing State Filings Just Got Easier

Updating and tracking filings in the System for Electronic Rates & Forms Filing (SERFF) has always been a tedious, time-consuming process for state filings departments at insurance companies. Manual data entry runs the risk of human error and creates the potential for information loss. Both of which can slow the filing pace or set the whole process back to zero with a disapproval.

When Perr&Knight introduced our proprietary StateFilings.com software in 2015, we knew the ability to submit and track filing information from a single, real-time cloud-based platform would save state filings teams a significant amount of time and guard against the minor errors that can negatively impact approvals. For years, companies were manually downloading filing documents from SERFF, entering the filing details into their state filing management system, and sending out filing status reports to interested parties. Those days are over. All of this has been automated through StateFilings.com. Filings departments have been freed to dedicate more time to addressing DOI requests and objections, which helps speed up the time to approval for filings and has a direct impact on a company’s bottom line.

Two-way communication with SERFF is here

Though the initial version and subsequent updates of StateFilings.com was a massive time-saver and a huge help for state filings departments, there was just one piece missing: the system only worked in one direction. Filings departments could use StateFilings.com to monitor information coming from state Departments of Insurance (DOIs) but initiating new filings and uploading information to SERFF still required lengthy manual processes on SERFF’s cumbersome website. Now, we are excited to say that the 4.0.0 release of StateFilings.com has solved the communication challenge by enabling two-way exchange functionality with SERFF. This update streamlines the filing process for insurance companies even further.

StateFilings.com’s recently launched system upgrade uses a two-way API to push data into SERFF, so users are no longer required to access the SERFF website directly. Instead, the entire scope of state filings management can be handled on a single platform via a streamlined, intuitive interface.

A recap of StateFilings.com’s capabilities

As mentioned above, we developed the StateFilings.com software to accelerate the filing process by streamlining workflows for insurance company state filing departments. Because we used this software internally for many years before licensing it to our clients, we knew the platform provided measurable value.

In place of the time-consuming manual processes most state filing departments relied on, our software harnesses the power of technology to manage and automate many mundane (but crucial) state filings tasks. Here are some of the system’s key features and benefits:

  • A cloud-based system enables 24/7 access
  • User-level security and role-based permissions protect sensitive data
  • Filing management (including status)
  • Objection and response library
  • Forms libraries for document management
  • Real-time information updates

More useful features

This year’s upgrades to StateFilings.com build on all the features and functionality above, further streamlining the filing process. Here’s how:

Work while SERFF is down

Users can continue to access and review filings, even if SERFF experiences problems.

‘Note to Reviewer’ improvements

Users are now able to submit notes to DOI reviewers en masse across multiple filings and projects. Editable temple language ensures consistency and cuts down on time spent drafting emails.

Filing cloning ability

Users can create a single countrywide draft and with one “save-as” clone for all 50 states, instead of one by one. When submitting to more than one state, generating multiple clones of one filing with a single click eliminates the repetitive process of filing initiation.

Scheduled item template enhancements

Create and update your scheduled item templates for each project and then save time by applying a template to multiple filings at once instead of having to import the template into each individual filing.

Developed specifically for insurance companies

The SERFF system was a major industry breakthrough for insurance companies who were accustomed to filing paperwork via mail or fax. However, as times have changed, state filings departments have increased the demand for a streamlined, user-friendly experience that mimics many of the other digital tools in the modern office suite.

We applied our decades of experience providing insurance support services for products in every line of business to develop a straightforward but powerful tool based on the realities of companies’ state filing department workflows.

The updated StateFilings.com is the latest advancement to accelerate the filing process, enabling insurance companies to be more efficient with their time and more cost-effective overall.

Interested in learning more about what StateFilings.com can do for your business? Schedule a demo today.

Expert Tips to Speed Up State Filings Approvals

by Courtney Hughes, JD, CPCU, Manager, Regulatory Compliance & Patrick Light, Principal and Director of Enterprise Software Solutions
There are many reasons to try to expedite your state filings approvals. Whether you are changing rates, launching a new product, or updating a product to meet your customer’s needs, speed is critical in today’s immensely competitive insurance market.
Obtaining approvals quickly is a huge competitive advantage. Bureau filings, in particular, can be especially difficult to keep up with, because new circulars and info come out every day. For ISO, AAIS or other bureau-based products, staying on top of the frequently-changing requirements gives you a significant edge over companies that are lagging behind.  For independent products, it’s all about getting your new product or coverage to market before your competitors.
Speedy approvals can help lighten your workload by ending that process sooner, allowing you to focus your attention on the next big project. Here is a list of useful tips that can help you avoid the stumbling blocks that slow down state filings approvals.

Get prepared before submitting.

Thoroughly research the filing requirements for the states in which you plan to file well in advance of your target filing date. Understanding and complying with these requirements up front avoids the issue of states coming back to you requesting that you correct avoidable procedural issues, such as providing the wrong edition of a required transmittal document. Issues like this can delay your approval by weeks.
You can obtain current information from state department of insurance (DOI) websites, SERFF or your insurance consulting services partner. For bureau adoption filings, make sure you have collected and organized all the information from the circulars before you begin so you can provide the states with all necessary pieces of information, like the ircular number, bureau filing number and state filing number.

Submit compliant, complete, and consistent material,

Reviewers can’t approve filings that are not in compliance with their state laws. Every time they kick your filing back with questions, it slows down the time to approval. Make sure that your product development staff and actuaries, or your insurance consulting services partner, confirm that the forms, rates, and rules you plan to submit are in line with state requirements. Not all objections or issues can be prevented, but where possible, anticipate the state’s requirements for your product and try to answer any expected questions in the explanatory memorandum you submit with your filing.
Completed material also goes a long way in speeding up approvals. For example, some states require a form usage rule in your manual for each form submitted. By providing the form usage rules in your manual at submission, you avoid the objection coming in and having to scramble to create the form usage rules and get internal stakeholder approval before the deadline.
Finally, consistency is important because it makes your filing easier to review so it is more likely to be approved quickly. After the forms, rates, rules, and supporting documentation have been developed, take some time to review them carefully. Make sure, for example, that your program name is consistent between the documents, or that your explanatory memo is not referring to a form you decided not to file.

Submit your objection responses ASAP, but always before the due date.

DOIs like to speed up their workflows too, so give them everything they need to close the filing as soon as it becomes available. If you received an objection with a due date in a week, submitting your response by that deadline is good, but submitting it within two days is even better. And always be sure to respond to the state by the due date they set. If you know you will not be able to respond by that due date, contact the DOI analyst and request an extension. If you miss a due date, there’s a good chance your filing will be disapproved or rejected, putting you back to square one.

Have a plan for objection responses and status checks.

Staying on top of filings once they have been submitted is challenging because there are lots of moving pieces to manage. You need to keep track of DOI questions and their due dates and ensure that you are consulting the right internal teams for answers. You will also want to keep track of when filings have been submitted so you know when it is time to check in with the DOI to see how their review is progressing. Before you submit, you should have a plan in place for how you will keep all of the outstanding filings organized. 

Use tracking software designed for insurance.

When you have a clear insurance software tracking system in place instead of a hodgepodge of spreadsheets, databases, SharePoint, and/or emails, you can easily keep track of DOI questions and due dates. The more seamlessly you can manage the questions the reviewer throws at you, the sooner you can get the ball back into their court.

Avoid double work.

Review your internal systems to make sure they’re not slowing you down. If you use an ad hoc tracking process, you are likely doubling up on data entry, entering the information once in SERFF and again in your company’s tracking system. This can cause delays in your ability to respond to reviewer questions or use the time of valuable internal resources who could be focused on the next project. Evaluate your company’s state filings process, looking for areas you can streamline. Working with an outside insurance consulting partner can help reveal inefficiencies that you might overlook.
There are never any guarantees with state filings approvals. But preparation, planning, and organization can mean the difference between a product that is launched on time, and one that gets lost in a maze of questions and confusion.

If you have questions about strategies to speed your company’s state filings approvals, our team of insurance experts can help.

5 Strategies to Improve Your State Filings Process

As every insurance professional knows, an inefficient state filings process can have a major negative impact on day-to-day operations and the timely filing of submissions. Problems related to organizing, sorting and tracking state filings consume time and resources and can create frustration and friction between departments. During our decades of providing insurance support services, we hear regular mentions of these challenges. As a result, we have identified five useful strategies to improve your company’s state filing process starting immediately.

Strategy 1: Stop relying on local storage and MS Excel.

Files stored on network drives, personal computers or on individual hard drives that are organized by MS Excel spreadsheets can lead to significant problems due to accidental erasure, data overwrites and inaccessibility by others. Local storage failures can stop your state filings in its tracks and render your team powerless to obtain vital information. Under audit, digging through old drives for information can waste days or weeks of manpower. Centralize your files in a cloud-based system and ensure your information is always safe and available.

Strategy 2: Say goodbye to your internally developed insurance software systems.

While it seemed like a good idea to develop an in-house state filings management system a decade ago, you might now realize that sustaining the software and hardware required for a secure and reliable system eats up more resources than your company can handle. These outdated systems can slow down the very processes they were developed to enhance. Maintenance and upgrades on legacy systems can get expensive and pose scalability challenges. Often only a few people on staff understand the system’s complexities and must personally resolve hiccups, thus stealing their attention from other duties. Switching to reliable hosted state filings software can ensure that your technology keeps pace with your business needs.

Strategy 3: Enable secure access by more individuals.

An insurance company’s state filings are often handled by a single department comprised of a few employees who manage all filings and issue all status reports. This employee involvement can slow the process down due to the time it takes to request information and generate reports. By storing your state filings in a web-based central location, you can issue log-in credentials to various stakeholders who have the ability check the status of filings at any time. Accessible and transparent data empowers users to get the information they need without running the risk of missed communications or slow-downs caused by human oversight.

Strategy 4: Maintain updated forms libraries and filing status information.

Old or outdated state filings status information can result in time-wasting confusion and policy issuance of incorrect forms. Rather than risk this unnecessary runaround, invest in insurance software that displays status and other forms data in real time and can be searched easily using relevant text. This enables all interested parties to monitor filing progress and obtain accurate, time-critical data at any time. 

Strategy 5: Take immediate action to enact change.

“Business as usual” operations avoid rocking the boat today at the expense of tomorrow. While it is easier to continue relying on a broken system and delay necessary improvements to your state filings protocol, you do so at your own risk. Chasing missing paperwork, sifting through email chains and calling emergency IT support to extract data after hardware failures takes time, attention and energy away from your staff–and only gets you as far as the next process failure. Generate a realistic timeline to improve your state filings process then stick to your benchmarks and watch your process improve.
Letting go of old systems and processes that no longer serve your business can be a daunting task. At Perr&Knight, we have seen these challenges affect scores of clients who watch their state filings systems become more and more fractured but lack a viable alternative. We enhanced our own state filings services by developing StateFilings.com, a cloud-based insurance software that streamlines filings process by directly addressing many of the pitfalls described above. In addition to using this software internally for our insurance support services, we offer StateFilings.com for license to insurance companies who seek a single, reliable solution to address their state filings challenges.
No matter which of the above strategies your company decides to employ, the first step to improvement is recognizing the limitations of your current processes and resolving to make a change. For questions about how to streamline your state filings process, call Perr&Knight at (310) 230-9339 or contact us today.