Navigating change while maintaining focus.
Panhandle Farmers Mutual Insurance Company (Panhandle) is a single state insurance company who embraced a cloud-based technological solution to transform their business with impressive results. Panhandle modernized operations to increase efficiency, expanded their business by targeting millennial customers and added new offerings for their existing clients.
Outdated systems slowed growth potential.
Like many insurance companies, Panhandle operated in a paper-based world with limited digital processing and this was seen as a restraint on growth and efficiency. As a small mutual insurer in West Virginia, Panhandle saw the need to assist their agents and policyholders in becoming universally tech-savvy. They were looking for ways to connect with and appeal to millennials while also providing new access opportunities for existing clients.
To cement their position as a thriving local company handling local business, as well as compete with bigger insurers, they needed to innovate bravely. With a strategic focus on solutions that enabled them to retain staff while reimagining employee roles, Panhandle knew that achieving their organizational goals required the company to become more efficient and adaptable.
Panhandle’s size was a critical factor in their transformation.
Many existing software vendors found them too small to service, and extremely complex, high-priced systems were beyond their means. On the other hand, a small company has a different kind of freedom to try something new, since there were not hundreds of staff to pivot to a new strategy. CEO Art Meadows held a vision for Panhandle that would position the company optimally to survive the rapidly evolving business landscape and open up new opportunities for growth. “One idea I thought would help our company was to advance our technology,” Meadows said. Inefficient processes and an avalanche of paperwork were holding them back, but finding the right technology would help.
All of Panhandle’s quoting was done via paper applications, and opening a digital channel would be a significant step toward improving their internal processes. They sought recommendations from the tight-knit community of small mutual insurers for an appropriate quoting solution. Panhandle decided to invest in BriteCore’s web-based quoting system and in 2007 they became one of the early adopters of that program.
Panhandle saw an opportunity to leverage their success in implementing web-based quoting into a full core systems transformation project. As a small mutual insurer, they were not the ideal customer for the growing core systems vendor marketplace. The core systems on the market were not designed for small mutuals or were out of their price range. Panhandle took the big step of investing in the development of an insurance operating system that would later become BriteCore alongside five
other mutual insurers as BriteCore built a cloud-native core systems platform. Panhandle has been at the forefront of new technology since then.
To expand their digital capabilities, Panhandle recently implemented BriteApps, BriteCore’s policyholder portal. Policyholders conveniently access many self-service capabilities through a native Apple or Android app or through any standards-compliant browser. Customers have full access to their policy, coverage, documents and contact information as well as being able to pay their bills electronically, submit photos, request a change or submit a claim. In addition, the policyholder app is fully integrated with BriteApps’ admin and agent portals, so administrators, agents, and policyholders can all see the same updates in real-time. Increased customer accessibility frees up employee hours that are now spent enhancing the business in more valuable ways. Cross training and continuing education strengthens company culture and fosters a collaborative working environment. Panhandle was also able to re-implement an inspection program previously dormant for several years.
Additionally, the flexibility of the BriteCore System allows Panhandle to continue adding integrations to further improve the agent and customer experiences as new tools become available. The company has added 12 new vendor integrations over time, which allow a variety of diverse business processes to be automated directly from the core platform.
Examples of valuable integrations include:
• MassPrinting, who gave Panhandle the ability to manage and process the printing from any location with an internet connection and is a vital component of the company’s disaster recovery plan.
• Hartford Steam Boiler helps Panhandle generate revenue by offering in-demand products such as Identity Recovery Coverage, Service Line Protection, Home System Protection, and Equipment Breakdown which would otherwise be a challenge for Panhandle to provide.
• BB&T streamlines billing processes through BriteCore by automatically posting payments from scanned invoices to the relevant policyholder accounts as well as directly depositing premium payments into Panhandle’s bank account.
• InsVista which processes mortgagee copies of documents electronically provided an immediate reduction of about 50% in processing cost by eliminating the cost of mailing these documents through the mail.
Panhandle has seen a quick rate of return from these partnerships due to increased internal efficiency and has a foundation in place which allows them to respond easily to changes in the business environment.
Since implementing BriteCore, Panhandle has reduced their costs and increased efficiency. They experienced 3 key benefits:
Ease of doing business.
By adopting tools such as a web-based policy portal Panhandle now has the ability to automate many processes, empower employees
to manage daily operations more efficiently, and create new product offerings easily. This has led to a 45% increase in DWP after the implementation of BriteCore.
Resiliency and adaptablity.
BriteCore provided the tools to implement and utilize a comprehensive disaster recovery program and the ability for staff to work remotely, which prepared the company to be resilient under challenging circumstances and respond promptly when strategic shifts become necessary.
Panhandle saw an increase in electronic payments after launching the Policyholder Portal and electronic payments now make up 47.3% of their payment collections. The self-service insurance app differentiates the company from most of their competitors in West Virginia and allows them to appeal to new populations of customers.