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 the 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.
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.
Let's talk about how to avoid those disputes and reduce the expenses.
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.
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.
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?
The reason to hire long term employees with full benefits is so they 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.