The original concept for SERFF was developed in the early 1990s by the NAIC. The Electronic Filing Submission's intent was to provide a cost-effective method for handling insurance policy rate and form filings between regulators and insurance companies. In June 1996, the SERFF Consortium, an unincorporated group of interested states and companies, was formed in response to the demand for an automated system. SERFF has been an open, cooperative partnership with the mission to fund and oversee the development of the SERFF application from its beginning. This partnership has been very successful, because this approach enables both the states and the industry to participate directly in decisions relating to the development and use of SERFF. This has allowed the states and companies to jointly exert a measure of control over a mission-critical function that otherwise could overwhelm either party's capability to respond to changing process requirements.
The SERFF system is designed to enable companies to send and states to receive, comment on, and approve or reject insurance industry rate and form filings. From November, 1996, through March, 1997 the Consortium membership met monthly in Chicago and Kansas City to define the requirements of the system. During these meetings, the membership resolved a number of issues -- particularly the issue related to a central repository of filings. The Consortium also selected Lotus Notes as the development technology. During the remainder of 1997, IES/Midwest, a private sector software developer under contract to the NAIC, worked on writing the production SERFF system.
In early June 1997, members of the Consortium met in Kansas City to confirm the direction that IES/Midwest was taking with the development effort and approve continuing the contract. Later in the month the SERFF Board of Directors met in Chicago, during the NAIC Summer meeting (1997), to formally vote on continuing the project.
From October, 1997 through December, 1997 a pilot test was conducted. During this test, six states and ten companies tested the application in a production environment.
In December 1997, the consortium and the NAIC agreed that the NAIC would take over the operation of SERFF and the SERFF Board (representing the companies and states) would continue to formulate direction.
In 1999, the NAIC modified the SERFF infrastructure to allow the capability to remote host the SERFF system on a server located outside of an organization's network. States could then use SERFF without requiring huge amounts of technical support and investment costs.
During the summer of 1999, several important enhancements were noted and changed with a new SERFF release 1.4a, distributed to customers in September, 1999. The PSC, meanwhile, was evaluating the recent enhancements with the need for more functionality. One of the most influential impacts on SERFF was the decision that the system should be available as an Internet interface, with an anticipated completion date in late third quarter 2000.
Beginning in January, 2000, Commissioner Nichols and the NAIC released a "Statement of Intent" that outlined changes that will be considered in the insurance regulatory environment. Part of this document addressed the "Speed-to-Market" issues that concern rate and form filings. Key accomplishments in the area of Speed to Market include the development and implementation of Uniform Product Coding Matrices (PCM), Uniform Transmittals, Electronic Funds Transfer, and Standardized Filing Types. The Product Coding Matrices is a uniform product naming convention established to standardize lines of business. To date, 51 jurisdictions have implemented all 153 business areas (property, life and health) and leverage the PCM. The Uniform Transmittals have replaced all state specific transmittal letter requirements and have been implemented by 51 jurisdictions. In addition, all states that require fee remittance in advance of the review and approval of submitted filings now accept electronic payment via SERFF, thus further reducing the turnaround time for filings. Lastly, the states have adopted standardized filing types within SERFF, thus allowing industry users to more efficiently submit filings in multiple states simultaneously. These improvements in the product filing, review and approval, have significantly reduced filing turnaround. For the last 12 months, on a nationwide average basis, life/health filing turnaround is 47 days and property/casualty is 28 days.
The NAIC membership and industry representatives actively discuss how changes can be made in the regulatory arena to improve the process. SERFF continues to be the automated solution to efficient rate and form filing.
As of today, 49 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and over 3,600 insurance companies, third-party filers, rating organizations and other companies are committed to SERFF. Reflecting on the past 12 years, SERFF has experienced tremendous growth.
- 2001 – 3,694 Filings
- 2002 – 25,528 Filings
- 2003 – 76,932 Filings
- 2004 – 143,818 Filings
- 2005 – 183,362 Filings
- 2006 – 269,101 Filings
- 2007 – 381,377 Filings
- 2008 – 554,261 Filings
- 2009 – 527,139 Filings
- 2010 – 565,475 Filings
- 2011 – 558,689 Filings
- 2012 – 544,884 Filings
The NAIC members encourage insurers to become active in a voluntary SERFF program that offers a technological solution to address rate and form filing and approval process. SERFF offers a decentralized point-to-point, web-based electronic filing system. SERFF facilitates communication, management, analysis and electronic storage of documents and supporting information. The system is designed to improve the efficiency of the rate and form filing and approval process and to reduce the time and cost involved in making regulatory filings. It also provides up-to-date filing requirements when they are needed.