Sheer geographical distance between insurer and outsource company is an important issue ("Out of sight, but not out of mind", Features, 2 March). We all know that in client-supplier relationships, it is very difficult indeed to manage and monitor service levels, quality and security when thousands of miles and several continents separate the two parties.
That is why some organisations have had the knee-jerk reaction of pulling third party services back to home shores (some of which is, of course, due to political pressure). Others - dare I say the more subtle and clever thinkers - have adopted a hybrid approach which not only helps overcome some of the security worries, but also delivers greater customer service quality and of course the cost savings.
Documents are scanned in, indexed and stored on a daily basis in the UK. This makes them immediately available - electronically - to intermediaries to answer customer queries and case tracking (applications, renewals, changes or claims).
The scanned documents are hosted and made available straight away to the offshore back-office service provider for data entry and business processing. At this point security measures can be introduced between onshore and offshore operations - such as data screening, seed names and so on. The onshore provider is far easier to monitor and manage.
Off-shoring is inevitable for the industry. But the realities of service management and security standards cannot be ignored. Luckily, imaginative underwriters have found a way of getting the best of both worlds.