PEMCO combines fast, accurate claims handling with seamless server management using Tableau


Single dashboard used to track all open insurance claims
Comprehensive server management spanning 500+ users
76% of Claims department employees use Tableau every month

PEMCO Insurance is a personal-lines mutual insurance company based in Seattle, that serves Washington and Oregon residents. Founded in 1949, it employs over 500 staff and boasts revenues of $458.4 million (2017). One of the many ways PEMCO uses Tableau is to accurately track and monitor all of its ongoing insurance claims, significantly improving closure rates and ensuring high levels of customer satisfaction. A combination of Tableau tools, applications, and dashboards also enables fast, efficient server management, while flexible permissions keep sensitive data secure at all times.

Tableau’s flexible permissions allow us to do things quickly and easily, maintaining data integrity at all times.

Better data tracking improves claim handling and customer relations

Like any insurance company, PEMCO’s claims team is constantly juggling high volumes of ongoing insurance claims, all of which are at different stages of the resolution process. Prior to Tableau, each adjuster had to track all of their individual claims manually, a system that was prone to human error and could result in claims stalling unnecessarily or slipping through the cracks altogether.

“When an adjuster can’t see what claims they still have open or what’s assigned, they can fall off the map,” says Tim Hughes, Tableau developer and admin at PEMCO Insurance. “This gives off the impression that customer service is not a priority, when for us as a company, it absolutely is.”

Now, all ongoing claims information is tracked through one Tableau dashboard that connects directly to the company’s data warehouse. The status of every claim can be monitored and reviewed from a single location, with adjusters self-serving their data needs and senior management able to see a comprehensive overview at all times. The result is a significant improvement in claim closure rates, leading to higher customer satisfaction and a boost to overall business performance.

“Using a single Tableau dashboard, adjusters can track every claim they have open, follow up with customers and close claims in a timelier manner. As a result, they’re able to provide a much better service where they couldn’t before.”

The ability to filter, save a customized view and subscribe goes a long way. We use that across our deployment to get people the relevant information they need, without relying on analysts to provide it every time.

Tableau tools and dashboards enable efficient server management

PEMCO currently runs a 16-core Tableau deployment, giving all 500 employees round-the-clock access to a full range of data and analytics capabilities. Since implementation in December 2016, over 50% of employees have become monthly Tableau users, demonstrating how quickly its popularity has grown throughout the company. In the Claims department specifically, Tableau usage is even higher; with 76% of employees viewing dashboards monthly, 59% viewing them weekly and 19% viewing daily.

In order to keep everything running smoothly, the company utilizes a series of additional Tableau tools and applications in conjunction with Tableau Server.

“We have a whole server ecosystem,” says Tim. “We have our disaster recovery server for standard failover events, plus our test server that we use primarily for testing upgrades before moving them to the production server.”

“We also have a utilities server that’s used for monitoring the production server and testing the test server. A variety of Tableau open source applications are installed there to help us with this, including TabMon, for production server monitoring, TabJolt, to stress test the test server when preparing for upgrades, and LogShark, to ingest log files from the production server.”

The whole ecosystem is run and monitored using a series of 45 Tableau dashboards, giving a complete overview of all hardware and applications, as well as allowing permission auditing and content organization. This allows Tim and his team to quickly pinpoint the causes of any issues as they arise, boosting productivity and avoiding unnecessary downtime.

“There have been multiple times where an individual user has pinged me to say the performance is pretty slow and I can quickly look at the dashboards and say, ‘it's just slow for you,’” says Tim. “Then, I can dig deeper and tell them it’s because the workbook they’re connecting to has a live custom SQL query against an underpowered database.”

“There’s a lot of ways we’re able to respond quickly because of the tools we've built with Tableau,” continues Tim. “These range from individual HTTP requests like the one I just mentioned, right through to when our data warehouse ETL process runs too long, impacting extract creation. When that happens, Tableau alerts us to the issue right away, so we can quickly get to the bottom of it.”

Using a single Tableau dashboard, adjusters can track every claim they have open, follow up with customers and close claims in a much timelier manner. As a result, they’re able to provide a much better service when and where they couldn’t before.

Flexible permissions maintain data security at all times

Data security is a major priority in the insurance industry, where many claims include sensitive medical information. The first layer of PEMCO’s permissions management strategy is to exclude all personally identifiable information (PII) from the data warehouse. This means all analysts can be given access, without any concerns about individuals viewing sensitive data that they shouldn’t be. The company then uses Tableau’s flexible permissions to ensure claim-related data is accessible at all times to only the relevant people.

“We use permissions mostly to lock access to specific projects, rather than to each workbook, although there are, of course, exceptions to that rule,” says Tim. “For instance, in our test project, permissions are set on a workbook-by-workbook basis, so when analysts are publishing content they can create their own user acceptance testing group and give those people access.”

“We also have a cross-functional project so when a workbook doesn't fall neatly into a specific category it can be published there and have individual permissions set,” adds Tim, “Tableau’s flexible permissions allow us to do all these things quickly and easily, maintaining data integrity at all times.”

Automation greatly reduces burden on analysts

Tableau’s automation features have also helped to significantly reduce the burden on PEMCO’s analyst team, allowing them to focus on more business-critical activities.

“The ability to filter, save a customized view and subscribe goes such a long way,” says Tim. “We use that ad nauseum across our deployment to get people the relevant information that they need, without relying on our analysts to provide it every time.”

The company has also streamlined many of its content management processes, such as archiving stale workbooks, using the Tableau Server REST API. Doing so has cut time consuming manual tasks while simultaneously improving data relevance and quality.

“If something on our production server hasn’t been used for 120 days, then Tableau will automatically move it to the archive,” says Tim. “Then, if it sits untouched in the archive for 395 days, it will be deleted, but not before the owner has been notified 30 days in advance, giving them time to act if necessary.”

“This kind of functionality is simple, but has quickly become incredibly valuable to us,” concludes Tim. “If Tableau went away tomorrow, what would we do? I don’t know even want to think about it!”

If Tableau went away tomorrow, what would we do? I don’t even want to think about it!