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March 28, 2002
Hazard Insurance Processing System Uses Words Rather Than Templates to Extract Data
Assurant Group's SmartFlow 'Never Forgets, Never Has a Bad Day'
ATLANTA/MIAMI: Don’t you hate it when your favorite Internet site changes its format so that you have to hunt for favorite features and other information that you used to find with just a couple clicks.
It may be irritating, but what choice do you have? You go to the site’s Help area and begin a search using key words that you believe will guide you to the area that you want.
This process of searching for key words is very similar to how Assurant Group’s SmartFlow insurance document imaging and automated workflow management system works. Instead of using templates to locate data, SmartFlow searches out key words –- premium, effective date, deductible, etc. –- that are likely to be beside or above data that needs to be extracted from a form.
Assurant, which is headquartered in Atlanta and Miami, is the leading provider of insurance outsourcing services to mortgage servicers. Its service centers in Duluth, Ga., Florence, S.C., Springfield, Ohio, and Orange, Calif., process an average of 2.1 million pieces of incoming mail each month and service a portfolio of more than 18 million loans.
SmartFlow is the only hazard insurance processing application currently using cognitive technology, according to David Sellers, Assurant’s director of imaging operations.
"Other systems on the market need form templates," Sellers said. "But forms are constantly changing, and templates can become out of date very quickly. SmartFlow recognizes data –- policy numbers, names, loan numbers, premium amounts, etc. – not format. So when forms are revised, or new ones are introduced, the system continues to pull the appropriate data without complication."
Data extraction is but one of the integral pieces of the SmartFlow
solution. Equally important is the automated business rules processor.
Data extracted from the forms is processed by the lender’s servicing
system based on a lender’s individual business rules, without
need for any human intervention.
Over 98 Percent Accuracy
Results of the SmartFlow system have been impressive. Completion rates (the percentage of documents processed without assistance from a human processor) are averaging in the high 80 percent range. Accuracy rates (the percentage of documents that process correctly without errors) are averaging over 98 percent. Since business rules vary, accuracy and completion rates vary by client.
The SmartFlow automated rules processor has several additional features that help streamline the processing of the documents. The electronic data interchange (EDI) sub-system processes EDI data from insurance carriers through the same business rules engine, making sure that all system input is processed in the same manner. The validation queue extracts documents that error-out and presents them to an operator to be worked.
For example, if the insurance premium is greater than 10 percent from the previous year and the business rule requires validation, the system automatically presents the policy to a validation queue operator to confirm the information and commit the transaction.
Based on the collected data, SmartFlow also generates letters to borrowers (such as notifications when there is insufficient insurance coverage), fax images, email notes, etc.
Higher Quality at Lower Cost
"Hazard insurance processing is an inherently complex business," says Gary Turner, Assurant's senior vice president for mortgage operations and services. "Documents with literally thousands of different formats must be matched to loans, and then a complex set of business rules must be applied to determine if the insurance adequately satisfies the requirements of servicers and investors.
"Historically, this process could only be performed by a staff of highly-trained clerical ‘knowledge’ workers. With SmartFlow, much of this work can be performed in an automated manner, faster, more predictably, with better quality, and at a significantly lower cost."
Turner said all of Assurant major clients are now running on SmartFlow, including the nation’s top two mortgage servicers –- Washington Mutual and Wells Fargo Home Mortgage. "The system is currently handling more than 7,000 business rules. And once a rule is ‘learned,’ SmartFlow never forgets, and never has a bad day."
"What sets SmartFlow apart from other processing systems is the quality of the document processing function," says David Madigan, vice president and product manager for Assurant ‘s Mortgage Channel. "With SmartFlow, our quality results are spectacular. And the system’s efficiency has enabled us to re-deploy resources to provide other services for clients."
About Assurant Group
Assurant Group partners with financial institutions, auto dealers, retailers, utilities and others to leverage their relationships with consumers to distribute products and services using its technology, processing and marketing capabilities. Its member companies are leading providers of specialty insurance, extended service contracts and membership programs. Assurant has more than 4,800 employees and operations in 11 states, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Ireland, Puerto Rico and the United Kingdom.
Assurant is part of Fortis, an international financial services provider active in the fields of insurance, banking and investment. As of the second quarter 2001, Fortis had total assets in excess of $400 billion. As one of the world’s largest financial services companies, Fortis ranks 31st based on assets and 73rd based on revenues on the Fortune ‘Global 500’ and 42nd based on revenues on the Forbes ‘International 500’ list (July 23, 2001). Fortis is listed on the Amsterdam (FOR A), Brussels (FORB) and Luxembourg (FOR LX) stock exchanges and has a sponsored ADR program (FORSY) in the United States.
Assurant Group is a service mark of Fortis, Inc.
James A. Sykes
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