Behind the insurance scene

I found Charlie Haight on LinkedIn in our PlanetPress user group. Subtle comments about his experiences with PlanetPress caught my attention. I knew when he answered my question about connecting systems he was knee deep in PlanetPress and that I needed to talk to him. Charlie is the owner of Cedar Springs Technology, a group of experts who provide professional services for application software and development mainly in the insurance vertical. He uses PlanetPress to help his clients get the most of their time. In this interview, he tells me how PlanetPress integrates into what he does.

How did you discover PlanetPress?

In 1998 we had a client that brought it in to experiment with. They wanted to modernize some of the green bar reports coming out of our system. When we saw the results we knew it was a product we wanted to use to improve our system.

What was the first function you used it for?

The very first thing we did was to write our green bar reports to a file instead of direct to printer. We then fed those files into PlanetPress and created PDF’s, instead of hardcopy. It allowed the reports to be e-mailed to the appropriate users and provided for electronic storage.

But we did get a lot more sophisticated over the years. One application that has made a big impact on is our policy admistration system for property casuality insurance.The insurance industry uses ACORD forms as a standard. There are forms for policy applications and claim notices. We have a web-based system that the insurance agents use to enter quotes and report claims. Before PlanetPress, they had to mail in or fax these forms.  But now we have a PlanetPress process that queries the database for the information the agent just entered and produces electronic forms. PDF’s are created for copies to the agents and insureds, and TIFF’s are created and sent to their imaging system for use by underwriters and claims examiners.

How many PlanetPress processes do you work with?

We have about a dozen major processes with many sub processes within them. In addition to the processes I told you about, we also produce invoices, notices, change requests and policies.

What was your most memorable implementation?

When we took an insurance company paperless. Like most insurance companies, this one runs a process at the end of the day that does all their billing, creates production reports, and prints policies. These can either be new, renewed or amended policies. All of this used to be printed as hardcopy and stored in numerous racks of paper files.  With the help of ImageRight, we took that end of day process and created either PDFs or TIFFs for the output so that most everything is electronic now. We haven’t reached a point where consumers are able or willing to receive their documents electronically, so there is still some printed output for mailing. But internally, they are paperless. No more paper files or reports.

Producing the policies electronically has had the biggest impact. There can be many forms required for each policy. Some are text only and others require variable data to be inserted. For example, if you have a boat  or valuable jewelry you may want additional coverage for. Or you may get a credit for having a security system installed in your home.   We have the text only forms reside on the printer and we have written functions to insert the data into the variable forms.  The job creates 3 types of outputs, hardcopy, PDF and TIFF. The hard copies are mailed to policyholders and lenders. Agents have the option of electronic or hardcopy. The PDF’s serve as electronic backup in the event hardcopies are lost or damaged and need to be preprinted. And the TIFF’s are imported into ImageRight for the company’s personnel to view.

What’s your favorite thing about PlanetPress?

That’s difficult to answer. There’s so much to like. If I have to pick something I guess it would be the ability to input many types of data, from simple text files to database queries. We have recently started to take advantage of the ability to input XML. Along with the emulations you provide and the ability to write you own custom emulations, PlanetPress has allowed us to process any type of outputs we been asked to use.