Core Strengths, Modern Technology
Help Smaller Insurer Grow
By Michael Carroll
Smaller insurers are sometimes overwhelmed by the shiny objects and expensive ads used by larger
competitors. While such companies cannot necessarily compete on these big
ticket items, they do have a secret weapon—a certain something that’s made
them successful for years, decades, or
more than a century. The trick is finding
ways to use those special qualities as a
foundation for growth.
This was the case for American Farmers & Ranchers (AFR), a company that
had been protecting autos, homes, farms,
and lives since 1905. What started out as
the Oklahoma Farmers Union is now one
of the state’s leading domestic insurers.
Built on a foundation of loyalty and trust,
AFR leaders recognized that a new marketplace full of modern and technologically advanced competitors was taking shape.
AFR obviously needed a way to compete in
a changing market that would fit existing
needs while serving the evolving demands
of a growing customer base.
Much of AFR’s growth had come from
multi-generational customers and agents.
With a history of personal customer attention and community activism, the company had been an integral part of the local
community. However, AFR saw the world
and insurance distribution changing. Modernization seemed like a no-brainer for a
company that wanted to continue to grow
and serve its customers. AFR needed
to find ways to make those relationships
grow and flourish by using modern technologies so that future generations would
remain part of the AFR family.
What was that certain something that
had generations of customers coming back
to AFR? The company needed to under-
stand more about this critical differentiator
and what they could do to enhance their of-
ferings to remain competitive. AFR realized
a key factor to its positive customer experi-
ence rating and high retention rate was its
fast and fair claims service—something not
many companies can boast about. Accord-
ing to a recent J.D. Power report, “2013
Auto Claims Satisfaction Study—Wave 2,”
satisfaction with the auto claims experi-
ence in the first part of 2013 has seen a de-
cline. Out-of-pocket costs for deductibles
and vehicle rentals had risen and appraisal
and settlement times were taking longer.
For AFR, it was a core strength that
could be used as a foundation for growth.
The question then was how to get started
and where to find the resources to support this initiative. It was time, they determined, to bring in partners to sow the
seeds of change.
Innovation Group and the Innovation
Auto business process service provided just the change that AFR was after.
Innovation Managed Repair Network
(iMRN™) offered AFR the buying power of a
larger network provider, allowing its customers to take their vehicles to the area’s
most trusted and reliable body shops.
Further, Innovation Auto’s Independent Adjuster Network and Supply Chain
Management services ensure that AFR
customers have access to the quality adjusters and low-price rental car arrangements that many larger insurers provide.
As a result, AFR’s new auto repair
claims process provided a best-in-class,
cost-effective, quality, and variable model
for claims services. All the while, it enabled the company to manage claims
more effectively and cost efficiently while
enhancing customer service.
It’s all in the numbers.
Within 18 months of implementation,
AFR saw a total savings from its partner-
ship with Innovation Auto of $290,152, or
an average of $317.11 per referral. The
average cycle-time savings for repairs and
rentals decreased to three days, and ad-
juster staff saw a reduction as well.
Most importantly, the customer base
continued to grow. From late March to
September [YEAR], AFR saw a referral
increase of 169.
“Our long-held culture of service excellence for our customers and agents
is strengthened with the new Oklahoma
based repair shop relationships,” said Chad
Yearwood, Director of Claims for American
Farmers and Ranchers. “And we are able
to provide more options to our customers
by offering additional access and priority,
further enhancing our claims process.”
They proved you can
maintain your traditions while bringing
in modern technology to help grow the
company and prepare for the future.
Michael Carroll is the Marketing & Communications Specialist for Innovation Group. He can
be reached for further information or comment at firstname.lastname@example.org,
or visit Innovation Group’s U.S. website at
“…a key factor to positive customer experience rating and
high retention rate was fast and fair claims service…”