Loan Protector Says Flexibility is Key to Coverage

For companies like Loan Protector here, being in the insurance tracking and verification business isn't as simple as it perhaps once was.

"The real industry trend is that more and more services are required to be in the lender-placed insurance business," said Ron Wiser, president of Loan Protector, in a recent interview with MSN.

For Loan Protector, that means offering operational outsourcing and other value-added services to its lender customer base in addition to just assisting with the placement of insurance on properties that lack coverage.

That has led Loan Protector to essentially re-engineer its business, adding a sister company that is devoted to software development that is used in Loan Protector's insurance operations. Because of the speed of technological changes affecting the mortgage industry, Mr. Wiser said that it has become crucial to constantly be improving products and services.

"Normally, 10 or 20 years ago, you wouldn't have seen that."

Why not just hire in-house computer programmers rather than creating a separate outfit? Mr. Wiser says that to attract and retain the best technology minds, you have to think outside the box and accommodate a work culture that is much more casual than a traditional insurance agency.

"We found that in order to get really top-notch graduates from technical schools, they not only need to be in a different company, they are in a whole different environment," he said.

In developing upgrades and new software, Loan Protector's affiliate, Specialized Business Software, draws heavily upon input from customers, much of it gleaned during the company's annual user conference.

"One of the most important things we do at that conference is try to get good feedback about what features they would like to see in the products we have available to them," Mr. Wiser said.

The company has a continual development process, he said, that at the beginning of each year the technology group has set up plans for the rollout of new features. Already, seven software release dates or client implementations are planned for 2006.

Mr. Wiser said one of the main reasons for creating the affiliated technology company was to be able to provide customers with specialized interfaces or features. Doing it in-house rather than relying upon an unaffiliated software company means that Loan Protector has control over the quality and priority assigned to the job.

"It just takes one major level of uncertainty out the picture," Mr. Wiser said. "We can deliver what we promised to our clients in the timeframe we promised."

Advances in technology affect not only Loan Protectors clients, but ultimately the consumer as well. For instance, the company has developed a Web feature that allows borrowers to provide information on their insurance policies to their mortgage lender. More and more companies are making that kind of feature available to their mortgage customers, Mr. Wiser said.

Loan Protector's key product is EasyTrack, which allows lenders to completely outsource their insurance functions.

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