PITTSFORD, NY--(Marketwire - April 16, 2008) - Insurers can leverage the power of the Web and online communities by involving customers as an active part of the repair process and letting them select their autobody shop online, Chrisa Hickey, director of product management with Scene Genesis, Inc., writes in the April 14 National Underwriter.

"It's crucial for insurers to reach the growing Web-savvy demographic, and claims is a particularly promising arena," she writes. "While today some insurers let policyholders report the first notice of loss online and then access their claim on the Web, that's only the first possible step."

The biggest opportunities lie in the 15 million auto physical damage (APD) claims insurers handle annually, Hickey asserts.

The article shows how an online repair-referral network works. Once the vehicle owner agrees to participate in the service, the adjuster uploads the loss information to the solution, which assigns an independent appraiser who inspects the vehicle, takes pictures, writes the estimate and uploads the estimate and photos of the vehicle to the site.

The system notifies local body shops, which view the appraisal online and submit proposals to the vehicle owner, indicating how soon they shop can start and finish the job. The customer reads the proposals and shop reviews written by other customers, plus information on the shop's training, certifications and warranty offerings -- and uses them to make an informed choice about which shop to work with.

After the job is complete, the vehicle owner fills out a brief survey about his or her experience for viewing in the online community.

Web-based repair referrals can lower loss-adjustment expenses because cycle times are shorter and the insurer doesn't need to actively manage the program, Hickey writes. The insurer can monitor the progress via automated communications from the web-based community. Because everything works through a browser, the carrier doesn't need to invest in any new technology.

The article, "Web-Based Reviews Improve Claims Experience for Tech-Savvy Customers," in the magazine's property and casualty edition, can be read online at http://www.propertyandcasualtyinsurancenews.com/cms/nupc/Weekly%20Issues/issues/2008/14/Technology%20Trends/P14ClaimsService.

Scene Genesis (www.scenegenesis.com) is a technology company serving the insurance and collision repair industries.

Contact Information: Contact: Beth Bailey Scene Genesis 585-387-9883 bbailey@scenegenesis.com Henry Stimpson Stimpson Communications 508-647-0705 Henry@StimpsonCommunications.com