Filed Under:Carrier Innovations, Technology Solutions

How California Casualty and friends combined data and a new core system to achieve FNOL nirvana

By combining data and a new core system—California Casualty really knocked it out of the park. (Image:
By combining data and a new core system—California Casualty really knocked it out of the park. (Image:

The Beatles got it right: We can get by with a little help from our friends. For California Casualty, achieving the goal of customer engagement was realized by combining the business intelligence of J.D. Power, a global marketing information services company providing performance improvement, social media and customer satisfaction insights, with the flexibility of the Guidewire platform. An “Auto Claims Satisfaction Study” conducted by J.D. Power in 2014 confirms it. Among the results, the survey showed that California Casualty: 

  • Rated among the top two in an first notice of loss (FNOL) index rating (28 points above the industry average)
  • Now completes more than one-half of FNOL calls in 15 minutes or fewer
  • Performs better than the industry FNOL average rating in addressing four or more services within 15 minutes

It all started with a new core system

After years of relying on three different systems, California Casualty standardized on a brand-new core system from Guidewire in 2008. Out of the box, the system did just fine. It wasn’t until California Casualty engaged with J.D. Power in 2009 that the technology’s real potential was realized. Chip Lackey, senior director at J.D. Power, and James Kauffman, senior vice president of claims at California Casualty, began by examining the step-by-step process of a claim and identifying the various areas where satisfaction was either increased or decreased. The FNOL process emerged as a key area.

Related: What KPIs should you be tracking?

“We found that what goes on during the first notice of loss is the cornerstone for the whole mosaic of a claim,” said Lackey. “It determines how cost-effectively a claim is settled, and is also a primary driver of how satisfied a claimant is with his or her insurer.”



California Casualty learned from J.D. Power’s research that claimants tend to be more satisfied when their FNOL call lasts fewer than 15 minutes. Claimants are also more satisfied when the claims professional accomplishes a lot during those 15 minutes, such as making a rental car reservation, clearly explaining coverage, assessing material damages and conducting initial data-gathering.

Related: A day in the life of a claim: the initiation phase

Once the data was gathered, Lackey and Kauffman took a look at the process flow as it related to the system. It was determined that flexibility was key to creating a claimant-friendly workflow using technology that allows the claims professional to focus on the claimant and not just fill in boxes and check-off tasks. California Casualty’s claims professionals now take cues from the technology about what to ask and when. In essence, the technology removes this burden from the claims professionals, walking them through what they must ask during the entire FNOL process so they can focus on the claimant by showing empathy, answering questions, and making sure the claimant knows he or she is a valued customer.

The system also allowed California Casualty to reduce its FNOL screens from eight to five, and embedded the recorded statement as part of the FNOL process. All this made California Casualty’s claims professionals more effective, which contributed to a reduction in FNOL call times and subsequent improvement in overall claimant satisfaction.

“The technology had to free claims professionals from the burden of navigating multiple screens,” said Kauffman. “If we had a technology solution that wasn’t easy and intuitive, it would distract claims professionals from being empathetic and showing concern for the claimant’s situation. They wouldn’t be able to perform those soft skills that J.D. Power says are so important because they’d be wrestling with and trying to make sense of any number of different screens instead.”

gold stars


And ended with FNOL as the foundation for long-term customer engagement

While claimant satisfaction was California Casualty’s goal at the outset, it became clear that the FNOL experience was an opportunity to go beyond satisfaction to achieve ongoing customer engagement.

“Accidents are commonplace to claims people, but they’re very unusual for the public. People sometimes have only one or two in an entire lifetime,” said Kauffman. “Improving the FNOL process for claimants is an opportunity to be the one bright spot in an otherwise traumatic experience.”

Related: Here are the 10 factors that are reshaping the insurance business in 2015

The future holds even more advancements for California Casualty with help from J.D. Power and the Guidewire platform. Lackey and Kauffman plan to apply what they’ve learned and leverage the new core system to consider the entire episode of the claim in the context of how the claimant wants his or her experience managed. There will be consideration for gender, age and profession, where operational and satisfaction data meet to achieve a common goal. The object is to obtain a balance in operational and satisfaction excellence.

If there’s any key takeaway from this story, it’s that California Casualty stood to learn a lot from J.D. Power, and it stood to gain a lot from Guidewire. By leveraging the two together — combining data and a new core system — California Casualty really knocked it out of the park. For the insurer’s claimants, the FNOL experience will never be the same (in a good way).


Susannah Adler is a seasoned freelance commercial and business writer and editor, with over 20 years of experience covering business and technology. Formerly a Research Editor with Gartner and a journalist, Susannah is based in the San Francisco Bay Area. 

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