By Jeff Pickard
The insurance industry can be paper-intensive, with applications, claim forms, plan summaries, brochures and customer correspondence arriving steadily. Customers send emails inquiring about policies and claims, and the insurance professional responds with documentation and marketing materials. Before you know it, the paper starts stacking up.
Stacks of paper and uncategorized electronic correspondence aren’t just bad for office aesthetics – they can hamper operations if you’re unable to quickly find the documents you need in all the clutter. All the time you spend searching for stray emails and errant folders is time you can’t spend writing policies and serving customers.
You can cover that clutter with an effective document management strategy, using software to help you stay organized. When your office goes paperless and your electronic documents are in order, you’ll be much more productive. But it’s important to select the right software before you make the leap. Here are three crucial questions to consider before you make a choice:
1. How easy is scanning? Scanning used to be the No. 1 barrier to going paperless because it was a cumbersome, labor-intensive process. But with today’s scanning technology, it’s fast and easy – or it can be, if you have the right solution. Before making a purchase, evaluate the scanning process, and make sure you can scan documents in seconds and create keyword-searchable files.
Also ensure that your solution stores documents in a format everyone uses, such as PDF. It’s also helpful if there’s a way to scan in bulk, using a solution that automatically recognizes where documents begin and end and that sends processed files to the correct client folder.
2. How are documents organized? Some insurance offices hesitate to go paperless because the office manager worries about how documents will be organized electronically. It’s a valid concern: Some document management solutions provide a complex user interface that can be difficult to understand if you don’t have onsite tech support.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. There are solutions on the market that organize electronic files much as an office file cabinet is organized, with virtual cabinet drawers and customizable folders and files. With this intuitive structure – plus the ability to conduct keyword searches and view a file preview – finding documents is a breeze.
3. Are documents editable? When you’re running a busy insurance office, you’ll need the ability to make changes to documents and pull text from paper sources into editable electronic files. If you find a paperless solution that converts documents to PDF, you’ll be able to share and edit documents easily, plus build custom forms you can use to capture important client data.
Another consideration on the editing front is how easy it is to manipulate files: Look for a solution with drag-and-drop features that allow you to add newly scanned pages to existing documents, split existing documents into two files and more.
Going paperless is an excellent way to get rid of the clutter in your insurance office, operate more efficiently and serve customers more effectively. But before you make a decision on which document management solution is right for you, think about how easy it will be to scan, edit and organize your documents. Look for a solution that automates as many tasks as possible, and don’t settle for less than lightning-fast data access.
Once you find the right solution, you and your customers will both benefit from a more organized approach, and you’ll be doing your part to save the planet by cutting down on paper use. When that happens, you’ll find that your insurance office has clutter covered.
Jeff Pickard is president and chief executive officer of Lucion Technologies, Orem, Utah. Jeff may be contacted at [email protected].