Those of you who are a little long in the tooth may have recognised the headline of this article as the old story of the Hellarewee. They were a tribe of pygmies who lived exclusively in deep grassland and at certain times would jump above the height of the grass to exclaim: “Where the hell are we?”

Perhaps ebusiness is a little like that. In the pursuit to stay ahead of the field and to maintain a competitive advantage, and not least for the fear of losing ground to the opposition and being regarded as a laggard, we may sometimes lose sight of where we are and what it is that we are trying to achieve.

Let us remind ourselves of the objectives:

  • business efficiency
  • business acquisition
  • customer satisfaction and retention.

    These are not listed in any particular order, but without business efficiency, the latter two are unsustainable. We must therefore use IT applications as a tool to help drive business and not the reverse. In terms of business efficiency, IT must help us be competitive in terms of cost, but we also need to invest in support operations to ensure the efficiency and long-term success. This is perhaps where all too often little attention is paid.

    Ebusiness is a dynamic fast-moving arena – just like loss adjusting some may say!

    Loss adjusters have traditionally been quick to anticipate insurers' needs and spotting the opportunity for new development – providing outsourced claims management services is a recent example.

    Development in ebusiness is undoubtedly the next major opportunity for loss adjusters and working in partnership with insurers and brokers is certainly the way forward. A web-based, back-end facility would not only assist clients by enhancing the claims service but also help retain and attract new business.

    Driven by technology

    Miller Pycraft has made considerable advances in introducing ebusiness solutions to its business processes. Its web-based claims reporting system introduced for the Channel Tunnel Rail Link liability project two years ago has undergone considerable development. Branded as Catlink, internet trading via the web now forms a major driver within its commercial and applied technology division. Much of the development has been in close co-operation with Jardine Lloyd Thompson as part of its Beyond project.

    Both the Miller Pycraft CATLink and the JLT Beyond project are finalists for the forthcoming Insurance Industry Awards.

    Catlink offers an individually branded and secure claims notification, reporting and management information service linking the insurer, broker, customer and adjuster. Additionally, Miller Pycraft, in association with Frontline, a consortium of leading consulting engineers, also offers its clients access to Casenet, an internet-based project management solution for subsidence claims.

    These developments add genuine value to the claims process. Real-time access by all parties provides an end to the costly and time consuming merry-go-round of the “what is happening?” syndrome. Further, this ensures that everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet.

    As mentioned earlier, the need for operational support is critical. Miller Pycraft recognised this at a very early stage and took the step of not only dedicating considerable resources but changing internal processes to ensure the success of the new products and services.

    As part of its continued commitment to technological advances, the next stage of the Miller Pycraft development is the introduction of web-enabled laptops to all its adjusters. This provides adjusters with access to the bespoke loss registration system, weather records and electronic links to suppliers, together with the facility to generate and issue reports direct to insurers.

    Extensive trials undertaken throughout this year have shown considerable advance to the claims handling process in terms of increased efficiency, a reduction in elapsed times and increased customer satisfaction. Substantial cost benefits are also envisaged with a commitment to sharing these with insurers.

    By providing all field adjusting staff with access to its ebusiness products, Miller Pycraft is ensuring that its promises are delivered.

  • Gary Liptrot and Bob Mockridge are directors at Miller Pycraft

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