Monday, February 17, 2014

Nugen It/Shop of Choice Insurance Help Tips

After months of struggling with the newly instituted Farmers Insurance Shop of Choice system, this is a letter that I wrote to them to make it easier from an end user perspective.  I'm sorry if this is a little dry, but they have since instituted almost every suggestion, and this could be used as a framework for insurance companies planning on moving to the Shop of Choice system. This advice will minimize needless headaches and overall transition pains.

Oct 23, 2013
To Whom It May Concern:
My name is Sam Plumb, and I have written to you once before about your transition to NugenIt and the Shop of Choice system.  During the first couple of weeks, when the system was first being implemented, there were quite a few kinks in the system, and representatives were quite confused.  This is to be expected when any widespread organizational change is being implemented for the first time.  Since then, many of the problems have been resolved, and Helppoint claims representatives have become much more familiar with the process.  There has been much more success with the creation and transmission of assignments, both to claimants/insured, as well as to repair facilities.  The transmission of these assignments is absolutely crucial, because they provide both the claim number, and more importantly the control number.  Both numbers are required for the NugenIt system to reference any information whatsoever.  Meaning that when a Farmer's insured vehicle is dropped off for repairs, and both the claim number and control number are not readily available, there is literally no way of uploading estimates, photos, or additional documents.  Representatives then point to the original Farmer's estimate, as a workfile ID and claim number can be used to create a supplement request.  However, many customers are never provided with the original estimate, or perhaps have misplaced it, again making upload an impossibility.  If we are fortunate enough to at least have the claim number, then calling into Helppoint Claims is the next logical step.  Often times it can take more than ten minutes to navigate through the automated phone system just to obtain the information needed to contact the adjuster, calls that frequently lead to a voicemail.  A return call often takes hours, and sometimes even takes days, just to obtain the necessary information to upload the required information to your system.  Once the call is returned, the Helppoint representative or adjuster tells you to call NugenIt, and then upon calling NugenIt you are told that you need to contact Farmers.  This is the scenario, not once, not twice, but every single time that we are placed in this position.  Some of the time we are able to get everything we need the same day, other times it takes several days, and there are times where it takes more than a week to achieve resolution.  During this time we incur frustration from customers, we receive incessant calls from the rental department, customers use up valuable rental coverage days, and shops lose valuable time and space that could be used for other repairs.  Like I stated earlier, Farmer's has improved significantly over the weeks, but the same problems continue to occur, and representatives are left without a solution to the problem.
I have personally handled all of the NugenIt "Shop of Choice" programs for our facility, for each and every insurance company that utilizes their service.  Some insurance companies seem to have worked out all of the kinks, boiling the process down to a science, while others still struggle with the system.  Being that repair facilities end up being the end user, here is my advice for how to streamline the process.
1.  When an automobile claim is first filed, a control number should be created at the same time as the claim number, and both numbers should be given to the insured or claimant at the time of filing.  The representative should stress the importance of both numbers as they relate to the repair of their vehicle, much like the importance of claim numbers are already stressed.  This information should also be mailed and emailed to the insured/claimant, as well as the repair shop if contact information is given, so that these numbers are readily accessible.
2.  As the system exists right now, there is no alternative method for repair estimates to be submitted to Farmers.  It used to be that claims related documents could be submitted to, but this is no longer the case.  If one cannot obtain the control number, and attempts to send repair documents via email to Helppoint Claims to try and progress, they are sent an email saying it must be uploaded through the shop of choice, with bold instructions not to reply to the email.  Obviously this is no help whatsoever.  At least while Farmers continues to make the transition to this NugenIt system, there needs to be an alternative method for uploading claims related documents, so that cars do not languish for a week, incurring unnecessary rental costs, extending claim completion time, and creating frustrated customers.  If an alternative method for submission of claims documents does not make sense, there at least needs to be an alternative way of accessing control numbers and original estimates from Farmer's adjusters.  Helppoint Claims representatives seem to have a way of accessing this data from their NugenIt portal, but repair facilities do not have the same access.  Perhaps some type of access can be created in repair facility profiles NugenIt profiles as well.
3.  There needs to be a definitive process for answering questions developed, whether all technology/troubleshooting questions are to be directed to NugenIt, and all claims/control number questions are to be directed to Farmers.  At this point in time, Farmers representatives direct you to NugenIt for any question that they do not have the answer to, and NugenIt sends you straight back to Farmers for the answer to your questions (as long as they are not troubleshooting related).  When Helppoint Claims representatives are asked questions about Farmers use of the system, they are often left speechless, and have no one to direct your questions.  I even asked today who they would suggest I call within Farmers to address some questions, and they could not think of anyone to direct me to, and suggested that I call NugenIt.  Is there a department within Farmers that handles the shop of choice, that can answer questions of users, and more importantly questions of Helppoint Claims representatives?  It seems like this person or position doesn't exist, but there needs to be a place where answers to more difficult questions can be sought out.
4.  After an estimate or supplement has been reviewed, an email is sent saying that the review has been completed, but these emails never contain the revised estimate or supplement.  To obtain these documents you then have to login to the shop of choice, navigate to the particular claim, find the revised view link, and then open the document to view it.  While this may seem quite easy to those of us who are computer savvy, this is quite a task for those who are not.  Many times only one person from a facility accesses the shop of choice with an email and password, if this person is not around, or other employees do not have the login information, then they cannot access the revisions at all.  Every email saying that an estimate or supplement has been revised must include the revised document as an attachment.  You would be amazed how much this seemingly small change will speed up and streamline the process.
I am not writing this email to criticize anyone, nor am I writing it to tell anyone how to do their job.  I have written this email because I deal with this system on a daily basis, and small changes can greatly enhance the effectiveness, efficiency, and costs related to the original decision to make the organizational change.  My guess is that these electronic submission systems are becoming more commonplace because of their economic benefit, in that they decrease costs traditionally brought about by physical damage inspections, and can decrease the amount of adjusters required in the field.  I imagine there are other costs that are thought to be decreased as well.  However, if the system is not being utilized properly and too many kinks are allowed to remain, there are extensive rental costs incurred, claims take longer to process, and your insured become agitated.  I can tell you first hand that there have been multiple customers who have decided to drop their Farmers insurance coverage as a result of the inefficiencies that exist.  They complain that they feel as if every person that they speak to is not knowledgeable, does not care about them as a customer, and they are just another number in the system.  Also, I can't even begin to tell you how many customers have reached rental coverage deadlines built into their policy because of the very delays that I have discussed, only to be told by a Helppoint Claims representative that even though the delays were on behalf of Farmers, they will now have to pay for the additionally needed rental time.  I am sure that anyone can see why this would be a huge problem.  To conclude this email, I hope that this information finds its way to the right people within the Farmers organization, the people who can make the necessary changes to make this system shine.  The people who care about the bottom line, the efficiency, and the overall satisfaction held by their insured population.  Thank you for your time, and if you have any questions at all, I will include my contact information below.
Sam Plumb
Alpine Auto Renovation