January 20, 2017

“You have to know the past to understand the present.” – Carl Sagan

The quote above applies to many things in the insurance industry, in particular it also applies to police report delivery methods. The evolution of police reports has been a lengthy process that has been shaped by technology, budgets, and the insurance industry’s need to deliver better customer service.

Thirty years ago requesting and acquiring police reports required a lot of manual effort and often involved delivery by mail. Reports were printed out, stuffed in an envelope, and mailed it to the requesting parties. Based on LexisNexis Risk Solutions research, the average turnaround time to receive a police report was 18 days. At larger law enforcement agencies, that turnaround time frame could exceed 125 days. The reports were handwritten, often difficult to read, and kept in hard copy after being read by the adjuster.

In the late 1990’s a major technological advancement occurred that revolutionized the police report acquisition process. From our experience with carriers, we found that the advent of requesting and receiving police reports via fax significantly decreased the overall turnaround time. In agencies that did not have the capability, police report vendors, acting on behalf of insurers, would supply a fax machine to the agency. This alone  resulted in a one day improvement in cycle time, based on our research,. The reports were still in paper form and often difficult to read. Further, many reports were lost or damaged during fax transmission. The ability to request and receive police reports over a fax machine reduced overall turnaround time from an average of 18 days to 14 days.

As the demand for quicker delivery methods continued to grow report acquisition companies began setting up mailing/faxing centers at key locations in the country. This further streamlined the process by allowing quicker mail services and providing faster faxing services. Based on LexisNexis research, this produced an additional reduction of two days in overall turnaround. Nevertheless, insurers still desired a quicker, more efficient, process.

Some companies began to employ couriers, whose job was to buy police reports and provide them to companies. Using couriers, in combination with mailing/faxing centers, trimmed the average wait time for a report to 10 days. At this point, insurance adjusters still had to manually review each report, type the required data into the claims system, and save the report without benefit of the data that was not keyed in.

As the industry continues to evolve, and consumer demands for faster service increased, further innovations were needed to achieve the fastest possible delivery of reports. These innovations revolved around the area of software development for law enforcement officers. This continued evolution of police report acquisition will be discussed in a future blog post. For more about how LexisNexis Risk Solutions supports insurers, visit the website.