Top Features of an Effective Claims Management System

Claims are a critical part of the insurance business. Even if your insurance company is not as big as Axa or Allianz, you need to have an efficient claims management system. Clients’ mindset and expectations are different from what they were 10 years ago. A recent survey called Insurance 2020: The digital prize — taking customer connections to a new level  has brought to light some fascinating facts:

  1. 71% of consumers made an online research before buying an insurance product.
  2. 68% of respondents were willing to download and use an app from their insurer in order to access services.
  3. 50% (!) stated their readiness to additional personal and lifestyle information so they can get the best deal for insurance services.

Insurance must thus move quickly to become more customer-centric and to improve customer experience. For successful communication, your customers and team members need to have access to an intuitive claims management system. In this post, we’d like to highlight some features that would be welcomed by both your customers and your staff.

Features of a claims management system appealing to customers:

  • A simple submission process from any device

Users need to have the possibility to complete a short and simple form using their smartphone or tablet. Claimants’ basic info, such as first name and last name (as well as other contact information) should be  filled in automatically when the customer decides to submit a claim. This should be easy to do since the info is already in the carrier’s database. In addition, the claims process will be easier if customers understand intuitively how to attach photos of receipts or invoices to their claim.

  • Tracking claims progress

Claimants need to be able to track the status and decision of consultants regarding their claim, further steps they have to take, as well as the final outcome.

  • All documents in customer’s pocket

When the customer uses their insurer’s app, they need to store their paperwork such as copies of their ID, driving license and policy documents on their application.

  • Online claims payments

Clients can save a lot of time if the transaction of claims can be done online. It also adds transparency to the process because both the customer and the consultant have access to the final decision of the claim.

  • Simplicity and security

For fast and easy access one can log in with a PIN code that is easy to remember. Any claims information entered must not be lost until submitted. At the same time all personal data must be secured via encryption. It is also useful if most of your app’s features are available even if the user is offline.

Your team will thank you for the following claims management system’s features:

  • Reminder function

This is a useful feature because it enables a consultant to stay on top of the tasks that require a timely response. The reminder feature facilitates the service provided by the insurance company.

  • Handling different types of contracts

It is preferred that the claims management system can handle various types of standard contracts. Furthermore, as the clients and the consultants might introduce amendments to the conditions of the standard form of contract it is critical that the system is able to deal with changes.

  • Keeping documentation up-to-date

Some claims are more challenging to prepare because more documentation is required. Thus claims managers need to have a system to help them keep an up-to-date documentation, prepare the claims, and prevent them from losing relevant documents.

  • Extended search capabilities

The agent needs to have the possibility to search virtually any data within the claim, including claimant, address, policy number, phone number, check number, etc. This function makes searching easier.

  • Centralized database

If you have several offices across the country it is better to have a centralized database so that the management can have access to the files, templates for claims and any other information. A reporting tool will help them analyze the outcome and status of claims.

So here we are! Ten features that a claims management system should have to improve your company’s performance. All in all, the app has to address your customers’ and your employee’s needs, which is why it is so important to choose a system with a user-friendly interface that fits well with your specific needs.

How to Start a Custom Software Enhancement Project?

Custom software enhancement is often confused with custom software maintenance services, because the line between these two terms may seem blurred sometimes. You need to know that software enhancement includes advancements in features, platforms, performance, usability and design. Through enhancement your software application becomes faster, more efficient, more usable, more useful, and more desirable. It’s the next step in your software’s evolution, that’s why you need to know how to prioritize the changes.

Step 1: Get an idea on where to start your custom software enhancement project at.

Create a database of requested changes where users of your solution can offer what they wish to see in the upcoming version of your software. In addition to this, you can approach your most valuable clients/users and ask them directly what kind of new features they would like to add.
Afterwards, ask the development team what kind of functionalities they would add.

They may speak in favor of:

Upgrading the software to be compatible with new database releases;
Adding new statistical analysis and visualization tools;
Adding a new tab to the dashboard;
Improving the search function; etc.

Step 2: Evaluate the information and take a decision.

As with all business decisions, it’s a cost/benefit problem. What is the benefit of adding a feature? What will it cost (including the costs that will result from not adding the feature)? Calculate how much it will cost to add it.
Tip: Usually the cost is calculated in hours that have to be spent by developers to develop a feature.

Analyze the information you got from the users of your platform and identify those missing features that will have a tangible business impact on user experience. It makes no sense to add a feature from which only a few will benefit.

At first, pick those features that have the most benefit for the smallest cost. Resources are often limited, while requirements and desires are not, that is why it is so important to prioritize correctly.

An accurate estimation of a custom software enhancement project may be a herculean task. These questions will help you estimate the project:

1. How will your existing solution be affected by modifications?
2. Do you need to build the new feature from scratch or does something similar already exist in the system?
3. Can you reuse the existing code?
4. Will modifications require the testing of the whole system?
5. How many developers are needed to make modifications?
6. How much time will it take to develop, design and test new features?

The bad news is that you can miscalculate the time and effort required. For instance, the development of a new functionality might take longer than you expected and result in higher production costs.

In order to avoid this kind of errors it is better to entrust your custom software enhancement project to an experienced team of software developers who know how to:

• Thoroughly analyze existing software documentation
• Analyze the architecture of the existing software application and offer structural changes
• Analyze and make changes to the existing code
• Perform software security analysis

Custom software enhancement cannot be made by a low-skilled developer. That’s why you need someone who has experience in adding new features to a code written by someone else, who can understand not only how to build in new functionalities, but also to see the business essence of the system.

One of the most important things in software enhancement projects is to clearly prioritize the requirements and take an approach to incrementally work on one function or feature at a time. Your users will thank you for the changes they’ve asked and waited for.

Custom Software Maintenance Is More Significant than You Think

Custom software maintenance is the last phase of the software development life cycle. Unlike software support services we’ve covered last time, maintenance services include backups, small changes to functionality, bug fixing, optimization for identified performance problems, and other tasks agreed upon in the contract. Software maintenance is complex and challenging, that is why you need to choose your maintenance team wisely.

All types of custom software maintenance are aimed at keeping the system usable and valuable for the company. At the same time, software maintenance has more service-like aspects when compared to software development because maintenance results in benefits for users. Software maintenance can thus be classified as:

  1. Corrective – deals with the repair of faults found.
  2. Adaptive – deals with adjusting the software to new hardware or recent operating system updates.
  3. Perfective – covers minor system improvements, such as the reorganization of data sets within a database so they can be searched faster or use less storage.
  4. Preventive – includes modifications that do not have a direct effect on the user. This type of maintenance aims to prevent problems that can happen in the future and to provide a better basis for future development. That is why it includes updates of documentation and comments.

Maintenance processes vary depending on the software and its complexity, but generally they include:

  1. Problem identification and tracing
  2. Analysis and determination of priorities
  3. Design
  4. Implementation
  5. Testing
  6. Delivery and documentation updates

As you can see from the description of maintenance above, this is a complex process. But maintenance is frequently viewed as an undesirable type of work for mid-level, senior developers, because it seems too constraining. Most companies hire junior level developers for maintenance positions. This is not always a good idea, because a junior developer may not fully understand the purpose and value of the system, and may fix bugs in a clumsy way.

Assigning a different software development team member to be responsible for maintenance every week is a good idea. This way developers keep maintenance in mind and are more focused on producing high quality code. Additionally, programmers will learn from each other’s code. If you wish to maximize your effectiveness at maintenance activities, you need to change the way in which people are assigned to maintenance.

You should have mid-level developers doing custom software maintenance because:

Maintenance is intellectually and technically complex

Code maintenance is not easy as far as it requires finding innovative solutions to existing code problems. Moreover, the maintainer must be able to work with concept design and its code at the same time, and this ability comes with experience.

They know how to program well

Skilled programmers recognize what makes good code good, and working with lots of code will refine that skill. Through maintenance, developers learn how to write clear, optimized code, but new development in its turn helps them put into practice what they’ve learned.

They know how to prioritize

Programmers who do maintenance know better how to prioritize tasks when the platform is live and actively used. The prioritization of fixes sets rigid timeframes and thus improves the team’s productivity.

As Dave Thomas said, all programming is maintenance programming. Even in a new project the code is original only during the first couple of minutes, because afterwards the developer makes changes and optimizes it.

The good thing about maintaining your custom software is that you can save from 10 to 25% of the IT budget in case you decide to work with a third-party custom software maintenance company, because IT outsourcing service providers have lower costs of delivery if compared to original software vendors.

In summary, choose the maintenance team wisely, maintain all upgrades, archive older releases of custom software so you can find it easily, and help your software evolve by adding new features and improving the user experience.