US 20020156656 A1
A storage media and method for transacting cargo insurance business in a network environment includes the on-line automation of quoting, billing, certificate issuance, underwriting, and claims processing. Moreover, the method also includes customer qualification and support services, in addition to data collection and analysis, for management report generation.
1. A method for an insurer to automate the transaction of cargo insurance business on-line, comprising the steps of:
a) in response to a customer request on-line for insuring a cargo shipment, generating a cargo insurance policy quotation on-line,
b) upon acceptance of said cargo insurance policy quotation by said customer on-line, generating a bill on-line corresponding to said cargo insurance policy quotation,
c) upon acceptance of said bill by said customer on-line, issuing a cargo insurance certificate on-line to said customer,
d) determining a reinsurance portion of the value of said cargo insurance certificate automatically, and
e) processing on-line a subsequent claim from said customer regarding said cargo shipment.
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15. Storage media comprising a plurality of software routines for an insurer to automate the transaction of cargo insurance business, said plurality of software routines comprising:
a) a first software routine for generating a cargo insurance policy quotation in response to a customer request to insure a cargo shipment,
b) a second software routine for generating a bill corresponding to said cargo insurance policy quotation upon acceptance of said cargo insurance policy quotation by said customer,
c) a third software routine for issuing a cargo insurance certificate to said customer upon acceptance of said bill by said customer,
d) a fourth software routine for determining a reinsurance portion of the value of said cargo insurance certificate automatically, and
e) a fifth software routine for processing a subsequent claim from said customer regarding said cargo shipment.
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 The present invention relates to a method for transacting cargo insurance business on-line. More specifically, the present invention relates to a method for automatically quoting, issuing, and supporting a cargo insurance policy on the internet, as well as the processing of insurance claims from first notice of loss to settlement of claim.
 For purposes of this application, “on-line” refers to any transaction occurring on a network such as a LAN, WAN, Intranet, VPN (Virtual Private Network), etc, As an example, the network may be the Internet.
 The cargo insurance business encompasses a wide variety of information exchanges with prospective and active customers, as well as extensive support functions for the insuring process. In a preferred embodiment the customer uses a computer, PDA (personal digital assistant), or other networking device to access the inventive system. As an example, this networking device may use existing web-browser software to access a known URL corresponding to a website providing the inventive system.
 For example, typical customer interfaces include:
 Requesting quotes for open policies and individual shipment insurance;
 Purchasing and payment of shipment insurance;
 Issuing insurance certificates,
 Voiding certificates;
 Filing a claim;
 Checking the status of a claim; and
 Customer service.
 These “front office” functions also require “back office” support functions, including:
 Data-feeding of customer data;
 Performing pre-qualification of customers;
 Underwriter referral capability;
 Interfacing to accounting departments;
 Quote calculation;
 Decision to reinsure;
 Reinsurance accounting;
 Automated notification of various parties when a claim is submitted against a certificate;
 Subrogation process tracking; and
 Claim adjustment.
 Moreover, additional customer support functions can be provided, to assist the customer throughout the process. Examples of this type of support function include:
 Instructing the customer regarding claim documentation;
 Instructing the customer when data inputted is invalid;
 Providing the customer with a list of available surveyors when they report a loss; and
 Providing the customer with information regarding his shipment responsibilities.
 It is also desirable to generate management reports, such as profitability with respect to commodity, customer region, etc., and also to have claims data reporting capability.
 Furthermore, a cargo insurance system should have the ability to analyze the data provided by customers to identify potential problems with shipments or claims. This functionality can be used in the following situations:
 Evaluating claims to ensure that dates fall within the legal statutory time limits; and
 Red-flagging high-risk commodities and ports to ensure that loss control is able to take preventive measures against loss.
 Therefore, an all-encompassing cargo insurance system should include both the underwriting and the claims processes. Importantly, this type of system can be automated, and can be made available on an insurer's website or other point of entry. A fully automated on-line system of this type would have the features summarized below.
 Underwriting Process
 The underwriting process is composed of five major steps:
 1. Quote creation
 2. Billing
 3. Certificate issuance
 4. Reinsurance
 5. Loss Control
 Quote Creation
 a. The quote creation process is initiated when a user, preferably a business-to-business exchange, accesses the insurer's system application, via a website or other point of entry, to inquire about the insurer's cargo insurance rates. The system requires that users subscribe to the site before any quotes can be generated. Subscription takes place immediately, and only requires very minimal customer information, such as name, company name and email address. When a user goes through the subscription process, any customer data that can be downloaded from the exchange is downloaded. This data will then be used to minimize the amount of data entry required in the creation of documents.
 b. When the login process is completed, the system performs a small pre-qualification check, where customer claims and premium payments records are accessed. The system will have the ability to reject some customers, based on data regarding past behavior that may indicate a high rate of claims or unpaid premiums.
 c. The quote creation process continues, with data input by the user of information regarding commodity, departure and arrival locations, mode of conveyance, estimated departure date, invoice value, amount insured and currency. Based on the transactional information provided by the user, or the business-to-business exchange, the system performs the quote calculation.
 d. The customer can review the quote information provided by the system, and make data modifications while in the quote screen, to see whether changes in the deductible amount or shipment locations can result in a cheaper rate.
 The billing process is initiated when a user accepts a quote that was provided by the system. The system captures all relevant payment detail information, but payment is not processed until the user agrees with the terms of the insurance contract. If the billing process is completed successfully, the insurance certificate can be issued.
 Certificate Issuance
 The certificate issuance process starts with a system verification of the data that was provided up to that point. If any required data is missing, the user is asked to complete it. The user is then asked to review the terms and conditions of the contract, as well as the data inputted. The user can change any piece of data that does not affect the actual rate that was provided with the quote. If the user changes one of these key fields, the system will have to redo the quote calculation, and the user will receive a warning message. When all terms and conditions are accepted, the payment is processed, and an electronic certificate of insurance is issued. A follow up hard copy of the insurance certificate will be forwarded to the customer, if necessary.
 When the transaction amount is large, there may be a need for the insurer to reinsure part of the certificate value. If this is the case, the system will automatically evaluate the percentage of reinsurance required, as well as the percentage allocated to each re-insurer.
 Loss Control
 The underwriting process ends with an evaluation by the system of the loss potential, based on commodity and port locations provided by the customer. If there is a high loss potential for this particular transaction, a loss control agent will be contacted by email.
 Claims Process
 A claim can follow two different basic flows, based on the loss amount reported by the user. While the regular process requires a period of investigation and the creation of a reserve, a fast track claim may be paid automatically by the insurer, after all required documentation has been provided.
 a. Once the user has completed a claim notification, the system initiates a series of automated actions:
 1. The user is provided with a list of documents that will be required to process the claim.
 2. A series of notification emails are sent to the claims representative, the underwriter, loss control, and the recovery department, based on such factors as amount of the claim, type of loss and statutory time limits.
 3. If there was reinsurance on the particular transaction, the various re-insurers are also contacted.
 In the case of a fast track transaction, or when the investigation process has indicated that the claim is acceptable, the claim is adjusted and paid. If the claim is for more than a certain amount, the file is sent to recovery.
 Accordingly, it is an object of the present invention to define a method for automating an on-line system for transacting cargo insurance business, including all the features heretofore described.
 In accordance with an illustrative embodiment of the present invention, a method for an insurer to automate the transaction of cargo insurance business on-line comprises the steps of:
 a) in response to a customer request on-line for insuring a cargo shipment, generating a cargo insurance policy quotation on-line;
 b) upon acceptance of the cargo insurance policy quotation by the customer on-line, generating a bill on-line corresponding to the cargo insurance policy quotation;
 c) upon acceptance of the bill by the customer on-line, issuing a cargo insurance certificate on-line to the customer;
 d) determining a reinsurance portion of the value of the cargo insurance certificate automatically; and
 e) processing on-line any subsequent claim from the customer regarding the cargo shipment.
 The disclosed method also includes pre-qualifying the customer, prior to generating the cargo insurance policy quotation, based on the customer's claim and payment history.
 Moreover, the cargo insurance policy quotation can be modified on-line by the customer and the insurer, interactively.
 Any subsequent claims from the customer regarding the cargo shipment are handled either through an investigative process, or can be settled directly.
 Finally, various types of management reports can be generated from the on-line data, including profitability, customer demographics and claim history.
 The invention is described in greater detail below through the example of embodiments in accordance with the present invention, as shown in the following drawings:
FIG. 1 shows a flow diagram of an insurance policy purchase;
FIG. 2 shows a flow diagram of a quote creation;
FIG. 3 shows a flow diagram of a billing process;
FIG. 4 shows a flow diagram of a certificate issuance;
FIG. 5 shows a flow diagram of risk evaluation;
FIG. 6 shows a flow diagram of a shipment data entry;
FIG. 7 shows a flow diagram of data validation;
FIG. 8 shows a flow diagram of reinsurance evaluation;
FIG. 9 shows a flow diagram of quote creation detail;
FIG. 10 shows a flow diagram of certificate voidance;
FIG. 11 shows a flow diagram of customer pre-qualification;
FIG. 12 shows a flow diagram of a claims process overview;
FIG. 13 shows a flow diagram of claims notification creation;
FIG. 14 shows a flow diagram of claims notification processing;
FIG. 15 shows a flow diagram of recovery/subrogation;
FIG. 16 shows a flow diagram of investigation/negotiation;
FIG. 17 shows a flow diagram of claim payment; and
FIG. 18 shows a flow diagram of claim acknowledgment.
 The inventive method is described herein by means of a series of flow diagrams, which cover the following areas:
 a. Individual Shipment Insurance Policy Purchase
 b. Customer Pre-Qualification
 c. Quote Creation
 d. Billing
 e. Insurance Certificate Issuance
 f. Insurance Certificate Voidance
 g. Risk and Reinsurance Evaluation
 h. Shipment Detail Data Entry
 i. Data Validation
 j. Reinsurance
 k. Premium Calculation
 l. claims
 m. PLA Creation
 n. claims Notification to Underwriting, Loss Control, and Recovery
 o. claim Acknowledgement
 p. Recovery/Subrogation
 q. claims Investigation/Negotiation
 r. claim Payment
 Each of the workflow processes has associated text, which is linked by the process number. In addition, numbered circle connectors are used in the drawings to link one flowchart to another, and the letter designations in the drawings are defined as follows:
 D=Defined Procedure
 S=System Data Input
 U=User Data Input
 In one embodiment of the above-mentioned invention, the method may be implemented on software. The software may be run on a computer or on a server. Such computer may be connected to a server such as a LAN, WAN, Intranet, VPN, Internet, etc.
 The text associated with each flow diagram describes how the process is performed, and includes the following information:
 a. User interaction with the system, and any messages that may be displayed;
 b. Information on the type of data gathered, and associated source(s);
 c. Decision logic that may be involved in performing the process;
 d. For quote calculation, the text includes the necessary data type to be captured, and the rate formula needed for premium calculation; and
 e. Other pre-defined workflows that may be called.
FIG. 1 shows a flow diagram for an individual shipment insurance policy purchase, including a symbol legend at the bottom of the drawing, which applies to the subsequent drawings as well. Table 1, below, provides a description for each numbered item in FIG. 1.
FIG. 2 shows a flow diagram for a quote creation process, with corresponding definitions as listed in Table 2, below.
FIG. 3 shows a flow diagram for a billing process, with corresponding definitions as listed in Table 3, below.
FIG. 4 shows a flow diagram for issuing an insurance certificate, with corresponding definitions as listed in Table 4, below.
FIG. 5 shows a flow diagram for evaluating risk, with corresponding definitions as listed in Table 5, below.
FIG. 6 shows a flow diagram for shipment detail data, with corresponding definitions as listed in Table 6, below.
FIG. 7 shows a flow diagram for data validation, with corresponding definitions as listed in Table 7, below.
FIG. 8 shows a flow diagram for reinsurance, with corresponding definitions as listed in Table 8, below.
FIG. 9 shows a flow diagram for quote calculation, with corresponding definitions as listed in Table 9, below.
FIG. 10 shows a flow diagram for voiding a certificate, with corresponding definitions as listed in Table 10, below.
FIG. 11 shows a flow diagram for customer pre-qualification, with corresponding definitions as listed in Table 11, below.
FIG. 12 shows a flow diagram for the claims system overview, with corresponding definitions as listed in Table 12, below.
FIG. 13 shows a flow diagram for claims notification, with corresponding definitions as listed in Table 13, below.
FIG. 14 shows a flow diagram for the claims notification system workflow, with corresponding definitions as listed in Table 14, below.
FIG. 15 shows a flow diagram for recovery/subrogation, with corresponding definitions as listed in Table 15, below.
FIG. 16 shows a flow diagram for investigation/negotiation, with corresponding definitions as listed in Table 16, below.
FIG. 17 shows a flow diagram for claim payment, with corresponding definitions as listed in Table 17, below.
FIG. 18 shows a flow diagram for claim acknowledgment, with corresponding definitions as listed in Table 18, below.
 In short, an online system for transacting cargo insurance business has been described herein. Moreover, the disclosed method includes both the underwriting and the claims processes, in addition to the quoting and policy issuance processes.
 While the invention has been described by reference to specific embodiments, this was for purposes of illustration only and should not be construed to limit the scope of the invention. Numerous alternative embodiments will be apparent to those skilled in the art.