Founded in 1980, Westland Insurance Group today is one of the largest community-based, independent insurance brokerages in British Columbia, Canada. With 165 employees operating out of 22 offices, the company sells auto, habitation, and business insurance to members of the local community. A portion of their credo reads, "Through a process of continuous improvement we will exceed customer expectations by maximizing value at every opportunity."
Westland insurance believes that handling documentation and paperwork efficiently is one of the basic tenets of living up to that credo.
As with any insurance brokerage, much of the day-to-day business at Westland Insurance Group involves faxing documents between customers, agents, and insurance companies.
Typically faxing involves taking a piece of paper, dialing a number, making a connection, scanning the paper, and then having a 2nd paper print out on the other end. This methodology has several breaking points built into it. The sender’s machine may be unavailable because others are using it. The sender may get a busy signal which means either has to re-dialing later, or trusting an automatic redialing function. The receiving machine may be out of paper or toner and can’t to print the fax. Even if the entire mechanical process works correctly, it is still dependent on someone on the receiving end seeing the fax and delivering it.
Once the information has been processed, a new set of inefficiencies come into play. The fax must be filed, usually for seven years, requiring a filing system, filing cabinets, and dedication of floor space. With the mountain of paper Westland Insurance receives each month, this is an expensive proposition. Retrieval of a 2 year old fax can be even more challenging. Industry studies show insurance professionals lose up to 500 hours per year looking for documents.
Geoff Belair, Director of Information Technology for Westland Insurance Group needed to find a way to meet the archiving requirements while reducing the amount of work required to handle a fax. In addition, the solution would need to mesh with company systems.
Westland's search for a fax method that would complement Westland Insurance Group's digitally-centric strategy led to MyFax. "MyFax fit right into both our archiving and enterprise insurance systems,"
he says. "Faxes are sent and received as electronic documents right at the desktop. No paper is involved unless someone chooses to print a document. Sent faxes are automatically archived into the system with no additional handling or conversion required, making it fast, simple, and painless. Archiving received faxes has been simplified as well since there is no scanning required."
Direct sending and receiving of faxes has helped improve individual as well as corporate productivity. Agents no longer leave their desks to send a fax, or wonder if a fax they are waiting for has arrived.
When a fax is received through Westland's enterprise insurance system, it’s automatically sent to the right person. This method is far more cost-efficient than the fax machines they were using before and more timely, since there is never a busy signal, received faxes don't sit unnoticed in a tray, and there are no concerns about running out of paper or toner.
For some processes (such as claims) that require several touches throughout the organization, having electronic documents instead of paper faxes makes it easier to share information. "The same document can be sent to several people at once, or one person can forward it to another - even if they are in different offices,"
says Belair. "That is certainly more efficient than the old way, and it means everyone receives a clean, readable copy. We are now able to process claims, applications, and other documentation much faster than we used to. And that definitely fits our strategy for customer service."
Belair estimates Westland Insurance Group has reduced monthly costs due to items like paper, toner, and dedicated phone lines by 89%. More important are the productivity gains they've achieved since moving to MyFax. Service levels are up, and company morale is high as employees no longer feel they're wasting time on mindless tasks.
Westland Insurance Group has also realized another benefit – arresting the growth of storage space required for paper faxes. The number of file cabinets, as well as space devoted to them, has remained relatively flat over the past year. "Most important to us, though, is all of documentation, including faxes, is now incorporated into our archiving system, we can keep complete customer records together for easy retrieval. For a document-intensive business like ours, that’s huge."
|"We are now able to process claims, applications, and other documentation much faster than we used to. And that definitely fits our strategy for customer service."
Director Information Technology, Westland Insurance Group
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