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A red barn on a farm.

Farm Bureau affiliates discover a better way to pay insurance claims.

After catastrophe strikes, the wait for an insurance check to arrive in the mail can seem interminable.

But Payments for some Farm Bureau Insurance claimants are now hitting their debit cards within minutes of approval, thanks to an innovative claims payment solution, called PreferPay® developed by Commerce Bank through its CommercePayments® product set.

In Missouri: Claims payments, your way.

Missouri Farm Bureau Insurance

“We’re in every county in the state, ready to help our customers in their time of need,” explained Roger Pecher, director of claims for the Missouri Farm Bureau, one of the state-level Farm Bureaus across the United States. “We want to be able to pay claims in a timely manner and in ways our customers want to be paid.”

Up until 2019, the Missouri Farm Bureau was one of many Farm Bureau affiliates that paid claims using bank drafts. Like a cashier’s check, a bank draft’s funds were guaranteed. However, recipients had to wait several days before they could access them. “They really didn’t work well for people who needed funds right away, which is often the case after someone experiences a loss,” Pecher explained.

Pecher had been searching for a digital payment alternative when he was approached by CommercePayments® in 2018. “The solution wasn’t fully developed at the time, but we saw it had potential,” Pecher said. “Commerce was also interested in making sure the final product met our needs.”

Pecher joined a Claims Advisory Council formed by the bank to guide the product’s development. Missouri Farm Bureau went on to become the first of several Farm Bureau affiliates to implement the new solution, known as Claim Pay Your Way.

Indiana: Choice matters.

Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance

Darrin Walton was looking to expand payment options when he met a representative from CommercePayments® at a vendor fair in Indianapolis in 2019. Pulling his cell phone from his pocket, the Commerce banker showed Walton, executive director of claims for Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance, how he could send himself a dollar with it. Walton was intrigued.

Multiple banks responded when Walton later issued a Request For Proposal for an electronic payments solution. After talking to several, Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance selected CommercePayments® PreferPay®.

“We aren’t going to turn our customers over to just anyone,” explained Walton. “We like to do business with people who take as much care with their clients as we do.”

“Commerce made it all very easy,” he said. “Their team was very responsive, and we liked their ability to tailor the payments process to the way we do business.”

The two parties held a kickoff meeting in February 2020— just a month before the Covid pandemic would lead to a global shutdown. “Neither of us had worked remotely before,” said Walton. “But together, we figured it out.”

Walton was as surprised as anyone when the new payments system was up and running four months later. Both Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance employees and its claimants embraced the new electronic payment system faster than anticipated, driven — at least in part — by the Covid restrictions that made cutting and cashing checks more difficult.

How CommercePayments® PreferPay® works

PreferPay® by CommercePayments® consists of an online portal that lets insurers send money using the payment method its payees prefer. Recipients who choose Direct to Debit receive funds within minutes using a Visa® or Mastercard® debit card. Direct deposit into a bank account and paper checks are also available for those who don’t have access to electronic banking. PreferPay® delivers additional benefits:

  • Improves back-office efficiency by automating the payments process.
  • Supports client satisfaction and retention with faster, more secure payment.
  • Does not require payees to set up an account to receive or manage funds.

CommercePayments® solutions are provided by Commerce Bank.

Innovation is ongoing.

Today 75% of the payments made to individual claimants are completed digitally, with direct-to-debit card deposits most popular, followed by direct deposit. Checks, which take the longest to process, have the fewest takers.

“We still have customers who want an adjuster to knock on their front door and who prefer to have a check arrive in the mail,” said Walton. “And this solution accommodates them. We also know our customers are reluctant to share their banking information. With our portal, they don’t have to. We are glad to have Commerce manage and secure the process.”

Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance continues to conduct bi-weekly calls with CommercePayments® to review payment and rebate trends, discuss improvements and troubleshoot emerging issues. “We’ve just implemented a new feature that lets us schedule recurring payments for claimants who receive installments over many weeks or months,” said Walton. “That’s a great time-saving option for us.”

At Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance’s request, Commerce is currently working on a solution that will allow claimants to choose their payment method by text, as an alternative to email.

“We appreciate the back and forth with Commerce when they’re making these improvements,” said Walton. “It’s good to be included in the process. That’s how we like to do business.”

Pecher of the Missouri Farm Bureau agrees. “We believe in taking care of the people we do business with, whether it’s a policy holder, vendor or a third party involved in an accident,” he said. “We have the same high standard of service for whoever we serve. Commerce takes the same approach. Commerce is a name you can trust.”

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