Seattle-based SAFECO has introduced its comprehensive plan for changing the way its business insurance is purchased, sold and serviced. The efficient service and pricing systemknown as ESPwill deliver greater profits to independent agents, while freeing them to drive more sales in their door.
ESP is a three-part strategy involving automated underwriting, contact center-based client service, and a web-based new-business entry module. Full delivery of the ESP strategy will occur throughout 2002 and 2003. The announcement of ESP was marked by SAFECO’s introduction of two of the three components:
Client Service Unit, which provides agents’ commercial policyholders with policy service, endorsement processing, certificates of insurance, renewal questionnaires and direct-bill service
Automated Underwriting Platform, a SAFECO-based technology that provides agents with faster, more accurate pricing and underwriting. Currently, the system handles all SAFECO Businessowners’ policy renewals. Commercial automobile, Workers’ Compensation and Commercial Multi-Peril will be automated in coming months.
The third componentthe ESP Interface, an Internet-based new-business entry modulewill begin hitting agent desktops later this fall. This technology, when linked to the automated underwriting platform, brings the approval and pricing decisions directly to the agents’ point of sale.
“ESP is designed to anticipate the future of the small-to-medium business insurance market,” Dale Lauer, president and COO of SAFECO Business Insurance, said. “We’re going the extra mile to create a comprehensive system that provides agents with what they need for growth todayand for years to come.”
The automated underwriting platform, which is largely a “back office” technology within SAFECO, delivers rapid underwriting decisions and once-and-done pricing for small-to-medium business. The automation frees SAFECO’s commercial underwriters to work with agents on more complex accounts that also can potentially generate greater profits for agents.
Today, the automated underwriting platform only handles renewal business. Beginning this fall, it will connect to a new-business entry module and deliver to agents bindable quotes on most new business accounts within minutesinstead of the traditional days or even weeks. This quick turnaround is key to helping agents preserve the narrow profit margins that small-business accounts provide.
The new technology is backed by the client service unit. For a small fee, agents can offer their commercial clients an exclusive toll-free telephone number for direct policyholder service from SAFECO.
“We are delivering everything agents need to become the commercial insurance leaders in their local markets,” Lauer added.
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