Taking Policy Checking to the Next Level
When it comes to running any business, leaders who are paying attention keep a close eye on their cost centers as well as areas of their business where they can grow and generate additional revenue.
In the commercial insurance brokerage space, growth and success occur when brokers can spend time with their customers, learn their needs, help mitigate their risks and sell them coverage. For these brokers, policy checking is a cost center, not a source of growth. That said, brokers have a regulatory and fiduciary responsibility to ensure their clients’ policies are accurate.
“If you’re a broker, an independent agent, policy checking is a non-revenue generating activity,” said Brett Cleveringa, Senior Director, Product and Service Line Management for Patra.
Get it wrong and you have a serious risk on your hands.
“Let’s say you sold your customer a policy. Along the way you provided a quote or a proposal to your insured. Potentially, something on the proposal or quote doesn’t quite align with the actual coverage that was issued by the carrier. In that case, that could be a pretty big exposure for your agency,” he added.
Yet another exposure exists in the processing of renewals as carriers can sometimes make slight changes in their coverage from year to year.
“If the broker is not taking an active role in evaluating those changes and seeing if things have been adjusted from year to year, that creates a massive exposure in the event of a claim,” he continued.
Traditionally, the process of policy checking to avoid these exposures has been a human-driven process.
“Historically, insurance professionals have to perform a lot of manual checks,” said Cleveringa, whose background includes more than 10 years working in the distribution side of the insurance business.
“That can be problematic because people make mistakes,” he added.
For that reason, many brokers and agents have long relied on Patra’s unique capabilities to perform this key task on their behalf, freeing their staff to focus on growing revenue and deepening relationships. With this new technology, Patra becomes a stronger partner and provider; they can provide unsurpassed accuracy and quality, with the improved speed, scalability, and depth that the technology provides.
A Three-Step Process
Using a proprietary workflow engine driven by artificial intelligence, Patra combines the art and science of policy checking into three distinct processes.
The first part is a policy checklist.
“If you think of the amount of information within a policy, such as type of coverage, the name and address of the insured, and levels of coverage and limit information, ensuring accuracy for all variable data points is tedious, cumbersome and painstaking,” Cleveringa states.
“Checking each of those variable data points is step one,” Cleveringa said.
The second step includes checking forms and endorsements.
“If you look at a commercial insurance policy, there’s a list of forms and endorsements that are standard on a commercial package policy as well as unique attributes that are specific to the carrier, policy type, and insured,” Cleveringa said.
“The third step of the process, and the one that is a big differentiator for Patra in the market, is how all the variable data points, forms and endorsements compare to the agency system and if updates need to be made,” Cleveringa said.
“We’re not just checking documents, that’s a big piece of it. We are also checking how the information on the documents lines up with what’s recorded in the management system. This requires the system to not only capture the information accurately, but also verify the information matches across the policy documents and the agency management system.”
“If there is a discrepancy between the data in the management system, what is written in the policy, and what the carrier issued, there could be significant risk of what is covered when there is a claim.”
What Makes Patra Different
Going beyond the human-driven process referenced earlier, Patra has built a patent-pending workflow-based engine that, using natural language processing (NLP), machine learning (ML), and artificial intelligence (AI), not only checks documents, but it automatically extracts the data from the documents, and over time, builds a feedback loop that allows the Patra engineering team to learn and improve its models going forward.
“When insurtechs and other technology companies build automated tools to support this process, it’s really difficult to aggregate a large amount of test data or production data into these workflows,” Cleveringa said.
Since Patra has built its own engine, it bypasses the need to contract with third parties to perform testing and develop additional models.
“We can actually ingest and utilize the massive amounts of production data that we have available based on what we do every day at Patra while serving our customers,” Cleveringa said.
To be clear, what Patra offers is not simply software as a service, known among the tech-savvy as SaaS.
“We have years of experience in business processes and workflows with total focus on the insurance industry. We understand how the industry works and are dedicated to ensuring that what we deliver is the best in the industry,” said William Wagner, Vice President of Marketing with Patra.
“We’re not just handing clients a software package and saying ‘Go ahead and do it. Our implementation team will get you up and running, and then you’re on your own’,” he added.
“The difference with Patra as a service provider, is that we provide best practices, we provide standardized workflows, and we work with each client to make sure we understand and apply their policies and requirements.”
“Then we apply our technology stack on top of that to automate it. That’s something that you will simply not get with a SaaS solution,” he said.
It’s Still About People
Patra is of course a technology company. But what drives its business model is what it can do for people, for everyday professionals who want to do their jobs and serve their customers, more efficiently and effectively.
“It’s all about people,” Cleveringa said.
“Whether on the carrier side, the broker side, the wholesaler side, the focus of what we’re building from a technology standpoint is making workflows as efficient as possible.”
Cleveringa said there are some insurtechs with the viewpoint that they can automate entire processes without human oversight. That is not what Patra’s about.
“It’s not as simple as that,” he said.
“If you look at the insurance industry, there are massive variances across carriers and how they structure documents and insurance policies,” he said.
“Having a fully automated experience without people at the center is something that I would say is far-fetched.”
“There is a lot that can be done with technology to make people’s lives better, and that’s what we’re focused on.”
For more information on Patra, visit https://patracorp.com.
This article was produced by the R&I Brand Studio, a unit of the advertising department of Risk & Insurance, in collaboration with Patra. The editorial staff of Risk & Insurance had no role in its preparation.