August 26, 2009

Allstate, the Northbrook, Ill.-based insurance carrier, has announced the launched of Next Gen Self-Service, an expanded set of online tools designed to allow agents and customers to access information and perform tasks associated with the claims process.

The initiative is part of the carrier's larger Next Gen project to reinvent its claims process, which has been underway since 2005. The larger claims project has included a modern claims system implementation and a focus on reducing cycle times and improving the overall customer experience.

The new tool set will enable customers to enter loss information for routine claims and submit detailed claim information online, according to a press release. Once claim information is submitted, Allstate says, customers receive a customized e-mail that includes the contact information of the person handling their claim.

The Next Gen Self-Service toolset also allows for claims payments via direct deposit and automated e-mail reminders on the claim process, including receipt of claim and payment notifications.

Going forward, Allstate expects to deliver further enhancements. Currently, the carrier is testing a capability in Colorado that would allow agents to take and enter online loss information on behalf of customers. Additional functionalities such as options for smart phones, real time access to support through the "click-to-talk" or "click-to-chat" functions, electronic document exchange and signature, and other increased customer options for information, are set to be rolled out in phases continuing into 2010, according to the press release.

Allstate says that Next Gen Self-Service was established, in part, because the company recognized that its increasingly web savvy customer base wanted more self-service option online. According to the carrier, the number of customers that checked their claim status online jumped 72 percent from 2007 to 2008.

"We are making it easier for customers to do business with Allstate, especially in their time of need," Mike Roche, Allstate senior vice president of claims, said in a press release. "Protection is our business, and when one of our customers suffers a loss and has to submit a claim, we need to be available how, when, and where they want to interact with us."

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