Canadian Underwriter

Hi-tech streamlines car rental process

February 1, 1999   by Matt Darrah, vice president of Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Toronto

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Consistency and convenience have been earmarked as the key factors likely to satisfy the consumer of the future. The rapid advancements made on the technology front over recent decades are largely responsible for this shift in consumer expectations.

To survive as a future service provider, companies, like insurers and their support service providers such as car rental agencies, will have to adapt to this changing consumer environment by developing technology to enhance competitiveness and deliver the convenience expected. In addition, the technologies developed need to take into account the requirements of all the service providers interacting in the process to be truly effective.

As such, in anticipating this swing in consumer expectations, Enterprise Rent-A-Car recently introduced a new technology service solution which should greatly enhance the service standards and cost-effective delivery in insurer/policyholder relations.

As insurers, brokers and adjusters well know, the average auto insurance claim takes hours to process, and communication between the insurance company, body shop and rental car company can take a lot of time. By capitalizing on today’s technology, insurance companies can realize cost and time savings by reducing phone calls with rental car companies and diverting more quality time to customer service.

In the past few years, the rental car industry has begun to employ various technological advances in communicating with insurance adjusters. Enterprise’s latest solution is “ARMS” (Automated Rental Management System) providing electronic data connection between insurers, adjusters and brokers with the car rental company’s own system. It also provides the user with the ability to monitor progress on a vehicle repair.

plugged in

The system can communicate directly with an insurance company’s claim systems, reducing the superfluous phone calling of the past between adjusters and rental car company employees. It can also allow the claims adjuster to enter and receive information directly on Enterprise’s computers, which provides the same benefits without costly systems development by the insurance company.

The system allows for better cost containment by insurance companies through automated management reports. This type of technology provides a high efficiency, low-cost rental car.

Enterprise will continue its efforts to improve the system – as such, it is currently building a redesigned rental system that will integrate the latest in wireless and Internet technology. The system is designed to serve customers better and make the transaction more cost-effective. The new system will allow body shops and insurance companies to talk directly to each other electronically in order for both parties to track the status of the rental car. The system will allow for access to electronic reservations and automatic callbacks, which will reduce time-consuming telephonic communication. At the same time, the adjuster is able to serve the policyholder more efficiently by being able to access the progress reports of the repairs taking place to a vehicle at the body shop as well as the rental car costs. In addition, the system will allow adjusters to control the file processing and updating from start to finish.

The new Enterprise system – when combined with a satellite-based network – will mean that any information entered from any rental car terminal will be available at other rental locations instantaneously. Simply put, insurance company instructions are accessible to their customers at all locations via computer anywhere in the world without even having to make a telephone call. Accessibility will save time and frustration for adjusters and customers who demand that claims be handled efficiently.

Future developments

In the future, insureds can return a rental car without ever having to go into a rental office with the help of hand-held technology. Rental car representatives will be equipped with a hand-held computer that communicates to the main computer through radio waves. This streamlined rental experience will help to keep insurers’ policyholders happy in a cost-effective manner.

In this age of technology, the insurance and rental car industries are beginning to reap the benefits of other industries that have employed computerized communications through the Internet and other user-friendly means. As technology rapidly advances, continued use of money and time saving efforts are the future of the insurance industry.