Posted on 12 Sep 12 by Annie George
In this issue of Insurance Unplugged, we’re featuring our storefront, Vertafore, in our In-Depth column. We spoke with Mark Craig about all the exciting products and enhancements Vertafore is delivering to agencies, MGAs, and carriers. Here we’re featuring an interview with one of Vertafore’s customers, Dean & Draper, an insurance agency based in Texas. George A. Douty II, Information Technology Manager at Dean & Draper, spoke about the benefits the agency has received through the use of Vertafore’s products.
Dean & Draper was founded in 1980, and caters to an international roster of clients from five offices, including its headquarters in Houston. Through a network of more than 200 diverse insurers, the independent company offers the most competitive, comprehensive policies for personal and commercial insurance needs. A National Top 100 agency in Property & Casualty and Top 50 agency in personal policies, we underwrite in excess of $125 million in annual auto, home, health and corporate premiums.
How has technology transformed your business?
George A. Douty II (GD): “Dean & Draper is very forward-thinking. We stay on the cutting edge of technology to provide a high level of service to our customers and to attract the best agencies for acquisition. We are focused on efficiency. The goal is to handle a large workload without adding staff. Anything that makes things easier, faster or better is up for consideration. We recently invested more than $400,000 to revamp our corporate technology strategy.
“Examples of how we have embraced technology are through the development of a customer service app for our clients to manage their accounts on the go through features such as accessing benefits, submitting claim photos and locating our offices on Google Maps. We also have very high agency-wide use of Vertafore solutions; 100 of our 130 employees use WorkSmart. In April 2012, the Network of Vertafore Users (NetVU) bestowed us with the 2012 Automation Excellence Award. “
Why did you decide to switch from in-house to online Vertafore solutions?
GD: “We’ve been using online solutions since 2007, starting with Sagitta. There were several factors that contributed to our decision to change to online. The hardware we were running the system on was coming up for expiration; we’d incur a significant cost to replace it. We also were in a growth-through-acquisition mode, so we wanted the ability to add new remote locations more easily. Hosted solutions once took 2-4 weeks to get an acquisition onboard with all products. We would have to put hardware in place to allow the newly acquired location to connect. Now they don’t need much more than an Internet connection and a working computer.
“Our technology enables us to acquire agencies, and do more with less. When we acquire an agency, we can provide full access to PL Rater, Producer Plus, WorkSmart and Sagitta—they get the entire suite day one by accessing the technology online.”
How did you decide to migrate to WorkSmart?
GD: “We migrated to WorkSmart from our legacy document management system for two main reasons. First, it was a great way to get all of our subsidiaries on one platform, and to standardize processes across our organization. Secondly, it enabled us to see the kind transaction detail that we couldn’t see before.
“Now, since we’ve implemented WorkSmart, we’ve seen benefits beyond what we originally anticipated. Our employees are a lot more organized. Instead of having emails, faxes and folders, all the requests are in one place, so they can see what they need to do and start checking off the list.
“An unexpected benefit of adopting WorkSmart that we’ve noticed is that the consistent processes has really brought our different subsidiaries together, created a sense of camaraderie and teamwork. For example, we have users from different subsidiary agency reaching out to each other to help with WorkSmart processing and procedures. Before the common platform those same users were unable to relate to each other’s processes.”
What are the benefits of using WorkSmart’s intelligent workflows?
GD: “Intelligent workflows definitely make us more efficient and our transactions more transparent. As a result, we can increase our book of business without adding staff.
“On our old system, we could see what had to be done and what was done, but we couldn’t see how the transaction was completed or how long it took. WorkSmart takes tasks from the beginning to the end. We can follow it through the whole lifecycle, and know how long each transaction takes.
“We had no way of setting service levels before, and WorkSmart now gives us the information we need to set those benchmarks. Because we can see how long specific tasks and transactions take with each of our users, we can establish benchmarks and run reports that trend against those benchmarks. That means we can look at each account executive’s workload, and how much time each task is taking. With these reports, we can identify which staff members aren’t working as efficiently as the norm, so we can take steps to mitigate the situation, such as offering additional training, supervision or coaching. We can also transfer workloads to other users so our clients get served faster.
“We can now use the data from WorkSmart to set benchmarks and identify who needs training, who is the most productive and identify the average time it should take to perform specific transactions. Ultimately, this information will help us drive process improvement.”
What are the benefits of Pipeline Manager?
GD: “Pipeline Manager will have a profound impact on the industry. Producers get insight into the number of prospects they have. It formalizes the sales process.
“It’s very beneficial for producers to have mobile capacity. I think Pipeline Manager’s mobile capability will be a big hit among producers.
“We knew for many years that our producers needed a better way to keep track of prospects and sold business. We spent a lot of time and money on improving sales programs but we needed a better way to measure what the producers were working on daily, weekly and monthly. Pipeline Manager accomplished this for us.”
Have you ever encountered any hesitation or resistance from Dean & Draper employees to use technology solutions?
GD: “Change is always difficult and there will always be some resistance. But positive reinforcement and training and communication ease the pain. If you do training early as well as prepare, plan and explain how the software will benefit the user, you can increase the enthusiasm and get everyone more positive about the change.”
How has your use of Vertafore technology helped you acquire agencies?
GD: “During acquisition negotiations between two insurance agencies, each party looks at a number of things. The level of technology the selling agency will get often plays a big role in their decision. With our Vertafore tools, we can go in and say, with confidence, that acquisition targets will get the best, easiest to use, most comprehensive system available. The technology we offer our acquired company plays a big role, they’ll have the best of the best, day one.”