By Barbara Aarsteinsen
(reprinted with permission, published in
ci – Canadian Insurance Magazine, April 2002)
After 18 months of development, Allianz Canada is
ready to launch its own electronic claims reporting using Web-based software.
The company has just completed a pilot project and on Feb.
19, a customer for the first time transmitted a motor vehicle accident report
electronically from North York Accident Support Services Ltd., one of Toronto’s three
Collision Reporting Centres (CRCs), directly to Allianz Canada’s Toronto claims office.
According to Bob Jewett, senior vice president of claims,
the system “harnesses the latest technology to achieve multiple goals and benefit our
customers, the CRCs, and our own claims operation.
“Ultimately the consumer will tell us if this is how
they want to report their accidents,” he says. “We believe they will appreciate
the increased convenience and the improved speed of response on their claim.”
Indeed, Allianz says that discussions are underway to make
the software available to other insurers and CRC locations, including those independently
owned and operated under contract with the municipal government and those operated by
police. The company predicts that, ultimately, widespread use of the system will speed up
and simplify the process of matching reports from the various parties involved in the same collision.
Later in 2002, furthermore, Allianz says it expects to
integrate the “revolutionary” software into its new claims system to
automatically generate a new client report.
It will also be incorporated into the CROMS — or collision
reporting & occurrence management system — software being developed by Accident
Support Services International Ltd. As well, the company is considering how the system
might be adapted in the future to enable online reporting from brokers’ offices for all types of claims.
“We’re very excited about this online
self-reporting,” says Robert Gutwein, vice president of sales and operations for
Accident Support Services. “It will help us with the further development of our own technology.
“We had been planning on our own to go fully
electronic and had actually started to work on that when Allianz came and spoke with
us,” he explains. “The company has built a piece of what we intended to build
ourselves and now we have been working together. It’s been very gracious of them.”
In several Ontario cities, motorists who have been involved
in accidents are required to report to a CRC. There are now three such centers in Toronto
that are operated privately by Accident Support Services plus one each in London, Barrie,
Orillia and Peterborough. In other municipalities, such as Ottawa, the CRCs are run by local police.
The idea behind the CRC is to try to offer one-stop
service. The centers are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and there is no charge for
the motorist; insurers help offset the operational costs.
When motorists come in, CRC staff affix a
“damage reported” sticker to their vehicles and take digital photographs.
Counsellors help with the completion of collision report forms and ensure that that
information is relayed to insurers after it is verified by the police. Some insurance
companies have direct phone lines available to provide an instant connection; a handful
have adjusters that work out of onsite offices.
Now, Allianz clients will be able to enter their accident
information directly into a PC at the North York CRC, using the customer-friendly software
program that the insurer has developed. CRC staff members will assist policyholders as
needed in the process. Their reports will be reviewed by police at the CRC and then
transmitted to an electronic mailbox in Allianz’s claims office.
That, Allianz says, will eliminate much duplication of
effort, increasing the speed with which the claims are handled and cutting processing
costs for both it and the CRC.
“If we or the consumer are inputting the
required information, that means that someone from Allianz doesn’t have to do
it,” says Gutwein. “That means significant internal savings.”