Houchens Insurance Group reduces manual work by 90% within one month after upgrading from RPA

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Highlights
Turned to Comulate’s BenefitPoint integration to streamline direct bill reconciliation processes
Transitioned 100% of benefits revenue to platform within two weeks of rollout
Reconciled 11,000+ transactions in background, freeing up employee time for strategic projects

Cindy McAllister joined Houchens Insurance Group (HIG) as a member of the early accounting team over 20 years ago. In the subsequent decades, HIG grew rapidly, and the direct bill reconciliation volume ballooned, posing a constant challenge for the accounting team to manage. 

McAllister, whose role evolved to Controller for HIG’s employee benefits division, recounts, “Direct bill accounting is a lot of work, and it just keeps coming. We were so busy that it felt like we didn’t even have time to stop.” 

Increasing headcount provided short-term relief, but didn’t provide a scalable solution. At the same time, McAllister was disheartened that her team seemed to never have time for their higher impact projects. “I didn’t want our talented team, many of whom have a Masters in Accounting, manually entering data all day.” 

First foray into automation falls short

As growth continued to accelerate, McAllister decided to explore Robotic Process Automation (RPA, or simply “bots”). She hoped that the technology would finally bring permanent relief to their cumbersome and manual direct bill reconciliation process. 

Complexity of statements hinders onboarding

Launching the first set of bots proved challenging, according to McAllister. Each type of carrier statement, of which there were hundreds, required a new bot to be manually programmed, involving frequent communication between HIG and offshore teams that would make changes. McAllister would often wait up to 72 hours for responses, frequently having to follow up herself for updates. 

“We would be at month-end and we couldn’t afford to wait for a team in the opposite timezone to fix the bot for the third month in a row. We were still hand-keying so much data; it was just as labor intensive.”
Cindy McAllister, Controller at HIG

Revenue accuracy becomes a concern

For the five bots that did make it to production, McAllister was surprised to encounter occasional errors in their work. Despite being programmed to handle a specific carrier statement type, the bots were unable to pick up on common exceptions, a frequent occurrence in direct bill accounting. Sydney Schaad, a Staff Accountant on McAllister’s team recalls, “When policyholder names were written slightly differently on a statement versus in BenefitPoint, the bot wasn’t able to reconcile the transactions, even after we’d told it ten times.” 

Already stretched thin, the accounting team reverted back to manually hand-keying data to ensure accuracy. “The time and energy required to constantly review and correct the errors led us to lose faith, so we started to look for other options,” says McAllister. 

Setbacks to solutions

McAllister recalls hearing about Comulate from a colleague which piqued her interest in a time of high stress. "I was blown away by Comulate when I saw the demo. I immediately felt like it had the potential to solve some major challenges for us," McAllister says. McAllister’s sentiment was shared by Bryne Wiseman, the President of Houchens Benefits. Cautiously optimistic, the two decide to move forward. 

From demo to launch in 5 weeks

HIG's Comulate Adoption Timeline

HIG, motivated to execute quickly, decided to proceed with Comulate just 4 weeks after the first call. A week after an agreement was executed, HIG went live with Comulate. After two weeks of use, the team had already moved all of their direct bill processing into Comulate. Khazzy Taylor, a Staff Accountant, recalls his onboarding experience saying, “I was able to get up and running immediately. Within the first month, my most complex statements that used to take me hours, now only took me a few minutes.”

“In under a month we saw our direct bill revenue processes become 90% faster. We were finally able to move on to more strategic initiatives that had been on the backburner for so long.”
Cindy McAllister, Controller at HIG

BenefitPoint integration streamlines workflows

McAllister needed a platform that could tightly integrate with BenefitPoint, the AMS her team has been using for over 20 years. “When it comes to reconciling revenue to policies in BenefitPoint, Comulate has thought of every potential bottleneck and created a clear way to remove it,” says McAllister. From one click posting, to embedded policy details, to purpose-built exception management, McAllister found the integration comprehensive and easy to use. 

McAllister also quickly uncovered more features she hadn’t picked up on initially. “I didn’t even realize Comulate was reconciling in the background when we weren’t online until I saw the number of transactions in Triage decrease without any accounting intervention,” says McAllister. Background reconciliation reconciled 11,000 transactions for HIG by periodically scanning their BenefitPoint environment for policy data changes. When updates are found, transactions are automatically reconciled, without any action needing to be taken by McAllister’s accounting team. “With a tool that automates much of the process and is always working in the background, my team has finally been able to get back to some of the projects that have been put on hold for so long,” explains McAllister. 

Following another successful month-end, McAllister shares her observations on what has made this rollout unique. “Unlike any other software I’ve seen before, Comulate is built specifically for our needs. It’s rare to find something that truly understands insurance accounting and makes our jobs that much easier.” 

McAllister is also pleased with what Comulate’s done for her team. “We’ve been working so hard for so long. Now that we finally have time to work on our most critical projects, I’m hopeful that this will open doors for my team and give them more opportunities to grow and expand in their roles.” 

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About the partner
Houchens Insurance Group (HIG) is a top 50 U.S. brokerage firm headquartered in Bowling Green, Kentucky. An Assurex Global Partner, HIG provides deep expertise and services spanning business insurance, employee benefits, personal insurance, and more. HIG's best-in-class service has garnered numerous awards, including Insurance Businesses' 'Best Places to Work' in 2023.
About the partner
Houchens Insurance Group (HIG) is a top 50 U.S. brokerage firm headquartered in Bowling Green, Kentucky. An Assurex Global Partner, HIG provides deep expertise and services spanning business insurance, employee benefits, personal insurance, and more. HIG's best-in-class service has garnered numerous awards, including Insurance Businesses' 'Best Places to Work' in 2023.

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