EXECUTIVE OVERVIEW


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EXECUTIVE OVERVIEW 

Premium audit is a challenging process normally, due to being the final transaction in the 12 month life of a commercial insurance policy. Questions that arise related to classifications and exposure development may have existed for some time but not become apparent until the final process of preparing the data for submission to a rating agency. It is essential to design and execute a process that supports both good policyholder relationships and efficient workflows.

My name is Bob Frenzer and I have spent much of my life working in Premium audit, first as a field person, later as a Regional Manager eventually responsible for 1/3 of the United States audit activities for a large National carrier, and later still designing start-up premium audit operations for growing Regional insurance companies. One frustrating situation I encountered was how difficult it is find a resource that can provide a complete premium audit service that would make my job easier. The more work I gave to vendors the more work I had - to resolve the issues that naturally came about. It was very frustrating for me to receive calls from policyholders asking questions about the annual insurance audit and discover that the process used to develop the final audit had not anticipated that someone might have a question!

Over the years I had discussions with many vendor companies with the intent of having them follow procedures that addressed the gap between performing a final audit, informing a policyholder of the results and dealing efficiently with the various reactions during the audit process. This is the most challenging approach to conducting an audit, and as one person told me - Why would I want to do that, I am very happy with the way things work now. VISTA was created as a result of that journey and realizing if we wanted a business model that created more positive outcomes we would need to build it ourselves. Together with some visionary folks in Underwriting, Marketing and Administration the Virtual staff (VISTA) independent Premium Audit department began.

INDEPENDENT AND CONFIDENTIAL

VISTA is an independent corporation and is independently owned, not owned by any insurance company. VISTA can provide services with no conflicts of interest, and can guarantee the confidentiality of each carrier's information due to its independent ownership.

Staff are dedicated to the companies they work for and enjoy excellent relationships with their underwriters, agents, and policyholders. Insurance company training is very valuable in understanding the proper way to approach Premium Audits and ensure smooth functioning in harmony with the Insurance companies.

The many years of experience our staff has combined with having the resources needed to do a professional job ensure excellent results for VISTA customers.

POSITIVE OUTCOMES YOU DESERVE

  • 1. Relationships that work between your staff, auditors, agents and policyholders
  • 2. Accuracy in final exposures developed
  • 3. Responsiveness for quick answers to important issues
  • 4. Efficiency to keep overall expenses down

 

EXPENSES ARE A PRIORITY

Premium audit is an essential function in an insurance company, and you need services delivered for your company in a focused manner by experienced professionals. Insurance company experience is important to design procedures to match each carrier's way of doing business. Smooth, efficient daily processes help provide quick responses to questions, and policy assignment, data gathering, and audit processing all offer opportunities to improve efficiencies and reduce expenses. Anticipating potential outcomes for each assignment can ensure both accurate final exposures and reduced disputes. Experienced managers recognize key characteristics in each policy that might indicate underestimated exposures and also recognize policies that are more likely to have misunderstandings and issues. Assigning should be done by analyzing these factors in addition to premium size to improve overall efficiency, and assign critical files for physical audits. Data gathering also offers many opportunities for the auditor to recognize potential issues and act during the audit process to improve outcomes and efficiencies. If the auditor is familiar with underwriting staff even better efficiency is achieved because the auditors and underwriters communicate and key on the exception accounts that need attention. When we add claims to the equation - even more efficient and able to spot and address problem accounts. When auditors can communicate to policy Processing and flag special accounts we see even better efficiency and elimination of common disconnects that drag efficiency and increase expense. Having a standard audit format that processing personnel understand easily and exception processes for audit makes the whole process even more efficient yet.

DISPUTES CAN CREATE HIDDEN COSTS

You want to eliminate disputes and get quick, accurate answers, and your policyholders and agents respond to a positive comfortable environment and will be very pleased if you can provide it, which will help encourage renewals and reduce hassles for you. Let's talk about the expenses related to disputes for a minute and see how many different people must be involved in disputed audits. Someone (often 2 or 3 people) in underwriting or premium audit to handle the dispute with the Insured and agent, someone else in premiums receivable must get involved to expedite payment, unit stat may need to get involved depending on the age and bureau reporting requirements, legal personnel may be involved if the courts are needed, and marketing may be involved if the agent has concerns. Plus how many people in the agency may be involved in the dispute, often a producer, CSR, and agency principal. WOW! Every dispute has this potential to drive a lot of hidden expense into your organization, and put a ding in your armor by affecting how agents view the service you provide. Imagine an alternative where you can avoid most disputes – and hand back the few that do occur for a quick efficient resolution that protects accurate data and balances you underwriting priorities.

EXPERIENCE MAKES THE DIFFERENCE

Auditors that know your company and staff is very important because if the audit staff understand carriers processes work they do their jobs in harmony, spending the extra time and doing the things needed on each account, and this understanding comes from a stable group of auditors dedicated to you. They get to know your book of business and agents and execute their jobs keeping you in mind. Also important is being familiar with delivering premium audit services, and how to work with policyholders to ensure they understand what is happening. To hear a client comment "In 17 years I have never had anyone explain this so well - I finally understand exactly how the final audit figures were calculated" is the outcome you really want. And you can be certain that a client that feels this way will pay their audit, pay the endorsement, and be more likely to renew than a confused, unhappy client. Doing business this way also instills confidence in producers and policyholders and makes it easier to get referrals and move accounts to your company. Agents want to do business with carriers that demonstrate their commitment by hiring excellent audit services.

DESIGN A WORKFLOW THAT WORKS FOR YOU

This is very important because one size does not fit all. There are many differences between the ways things are done at different insurance companies. Obviously policy rating systems and back end registration are often different, and even similar systems evolve differently over time which can affect all aspects of the audit process. Your systems must deliver the expired or cancelled policy data for audit which affects assignments, data gathering, and processing. Something as simple as a missing class code can potentially "stop the wheels" and add expense. When staff becomes familiar with your Company they notice when something seems odd or wrong and can flag that situation early. Audit staff also needs to change to adapt to your needs, which are always changing. Product development may change a policy form, add a new line of business, or just request information and it's better to have people working in a process that anticipates that situation. Smooth predictable outcomes every time is the goal for a sleek, efficient organization.

TRUE PARTNERS

Will the auditors do things like exception handling engineered for your needs, communication with all departments in your company, taking a long term perspective on process design, and operating in an expense conscious delivery system? Are auditors given tools and procedures to allow them to keep agents and policyholders informed while protecting underwriter decision making. Great outcomes happen through careful planning and execution by experienced professionals. The reason we hire long term employees and provide full benefits is so your auditors can focus on client needs with less distraction. The audit company should be designed as a permanent resource and focused on stable, efficient completion of the annual premium audit. As an independent audit department auditor our people can enjoy all the long term security they would as an insurance company employee and feel comfortable working with their clients.

NEXT STEPS

  • 1. Contact Bob Frenzer at 847-398-1172 and Bob@VistaResource.com
  • 2. Arrange a meeting to review your staffing and budget needs with an experienced audit director who can explain your options and expected outcomes. This planning can address longer range planning and help settle the Premium Audit process long term.
  • 3. RELAX !