Fujitsu Pen Tablets Used in First North American “Drive-Through” Insurance Claims Facility
“The mobile features of pen tablets enable our appraisers to complete an estimate without leaving a customer.”
MANITOBA PUBLIC INSURANCE (MPI), insurer of all motor vehicles registered in the Canadian province of Manitoba, wanted to improve service for its customers – the province’s 800,000 vehicle owners. Through combined efforts in systems integration by Filbitron Systems Group and software from Mitchell International, MPI was able to implement the first “drive-through” insurance claims facility in North America.
MPI transitioned its desktop network to a wireless system based on pen tablet computers from Fujitsu Personal Systems, Inc. (FPSI) and RF wireless technology from Proxim. This new system gives staff at MPI the ability to examine vehicles and process claims while standing with a customer.
|Challenge||Reduce time spent processing claims and direct focus toward serving the customer|
|Solution||Using Stylistic computers, Proxim radios and Mitchell’s software, appraisers create repair estimates while
standing with customers and inspecting damaged vehicles
|Benefits||Claims are processed faster, workspace is used more efficiently, and customer service has significantly improved|
For many years, estimates were manually created at MPI. An appraiser would walk out to the damaged car with a customer, inspect the vehicle, take notes with a legal pad or record information with a bar-code device, and return to a back office to calculate the estimate.
The customer, meanwhile, was left waiting alone for the results. This procedure not only incurred delays, but also raised public perception of “disappearing staff syndrome,” where a staff member leaves a customer alone for several minutes to complete paperwork. MPI wanted to improve its level of customer service and efficiencies in processing claims.
THE WIRELESS SOLUTION
After thorough research of available options, Mitchell designed a software solution that addressed all of MPI’s needs. Working closely with Filbitron Systems, an FPSI RF MasterVAR, Mitchell selected Fujitsu’s family of Stylistic pen tablets as the communications tool for MPI. The advanced features of the Stylistic computer integrated with Proxim’s wireless local area network (LAN) offer “working mobility” to MPI’s appraisers by enabling them to easily enter information with a stylus, run calculations to determine labor time and parts prices, and write estimates – all while walking and standing with customers and inspecting damaged vehicles.
The proof-of-concept was built and tested at Filbitron’s facility in the Toronto area. Each Stylistic pen tablet used at MPI’s site has a 340 MB hard disk drive, 24 MB RAM, hand strap, keyboard, and stand for when the appraiser works at a desk. The pen tablets integrate RangeLAN2( radios from Proxim and feature 2.4 GHz frequency-hopping, spread-spectrum technology. The frequency is dedicated to US FCC & Canadian DOC channel sets so it doesn’t require licensing by the user. Like the Stylistic, the RangeLAN2 provides excellent power management.
STAYING CLOSE TO THE CUSTOMER
Wireless LAN access enables appraisers to stay with a customer while information is sent and retrieved from a server residing inside MPI’s offices. Appraisers can also provide an on-screen review for the customer thanks to a graphical user interface developed by Mitchell. Since the appraiser can move freely with the customer and calculate an estimate “on the spot,” the processing of claims is more efficient and “disappearing staff syndrome” is now controlled.
“The mobile features of pen tablets enable our appraisers to complete an estimate without leaving a customer,” commented Will Kukelko, director of physical damage at MPI. “Before, appraisers would work with the limits of a desktop network in order to get a job done. Now, the network moves with the appraiser, so we can process claims more quickly and direct our focus toward serving the customer.”
In addition to faster claims processing time and enhanced customer service, the automated system has delivered unexpected benefits as well. Should a customer have questions for an adjuster, the appraiser can send estimates with the pen tablet’s wireless connection to an indoor printer for the adjuster to read. The adjuster is then able to review the relevant information and service the customer immediately.
The use of pen tablets also increased the amount of working space for everyone. Prior to the new system, 17-inch monitors, keyboards and a required set of 26 books for bar-code data gathering were used at each work area. The pen tablets helped eliminate those items.
MPI currently uses 52 pen tablets and has plans to grow that number to 100 units for its entire network of offices in Manitoba. They also hope to expand their pen tablet/wireless system in the near future by adding the ability to capture photos, use corporate-wide e-mail and offer remote WAN printing. MPI is convinced the Stylistic computers have significantly improved the quality and delivery of customer service, eliminated inefficient procedures and streamlined many of its business processes.
About Manitoba Public Insurance
Manitoba Public Insurance is a non-profit Crown Corporation that has provided basic automobile coverage since 1971. Our services are available throughout Manitoba in claim centres and Customer Service centres. www.mpi.mb.ca