HelpSystems and National Farmers Insurance Work Together to Create Efficient User Applications

HelpSystems and National Farmers Insurance Work Together to Create Efficient User Applications

See how Sequel Data Access and Sequel Web Interface made a big impact.


In the 1930s, the Depression made life in the U.S. extremely difficult. Unemployment and poverty caused many farmers and workers to leave their homes, seek out a new start, and try to create a sense of community. Together, people worked through challenges with a spirit of cooperation that proved successful. During this time, a group of family farmers came together to form an organization that would protect the interests of themselves and other farmers. This was known as the National Farmers Union and later became the National Farmers Union Security Association, a life insurance company aimed at providing financial security for the nation’s family farmers.

Today, National Farmers Union Property and Casualty Company still carries old-fashioned values of community and cooperation. Reflecting this both externally in its support of worthy causes, and internally in the family spirit of its client relationships, National Farmers Insurance works to deliver outstanding customer service. This includes providing quick and accurate claim handling, recognizing its ties to the National Farmers Union farm organization, and offering products specifically designed to meet the needs of cooperatives.

One way National Farmers Insurance has maintained its quality service is by creating user applications with Sequel Data Access, the HelpSystems business intelligence solution for the IBM i. Lester Smith is the Application Manager at National Farmers and finds Sequel Viewpoint (its Windows interface) to be a great product for everyday use. He says, “We develop our application software in-house and use SEQUEL to build views, reports, and scripts. We use SEQUEL for ad hoc and production reports on a regular basis, and Sequel has been great for that.”

National Farmers Insurance also presents data with the Sequel Web Interface.™Lester says, “In fact, the web interface, which lets users run views, reports, and scripts from a browser, is a major part of how we’re using Sequel. We have a document imaging system for the cold storage of documents. These are images of signed documents, written notifications, photographs, and so on, related to individual insurance policies. We have an index file on the System i that is keyed by policy number and contains a record for each document associated with a policy.

“To use this, the only software the agent needs is a browser. The Sequel Web Interface, with the proper security, prompts the agent for a policy number. Our agents are only allowed to access their own policies. The agent sees a list of the documents related to that policy with an image next to each document to identify the type of document. For example, if it’s a photo, there’s a camera beside it. Then, we have a hyperlink in the Sequel Web Interface that runs the PC executable and brings up the actual image of the document. It’s really slick.”

“Sequel has certainly saved our users a significant amount of time.”

Chris Warburton is a Senior Programmer/Analyst at National Farmers Insurance and agrees that Sequel has been instrumental in the creation of user applications. He explains, “Without Sequel and the web interface, I’m not sure how we would have built this document retrieval application. Sequel has certainly saved our users a significant amount of time. We also have another application for the general public. From a map on our website, clients can click on a city and see the insurance agents in their area, a picture of the agent, background information, and contact information.”

Yet another Sequel application is for email. Says Lester, “We use Sequel to automatically email a claim notification to the appropriate insurance agent. We’ve embedded a Sequel command into our CL program, and we just pass the agent’s name, email address, and claim information to Sequel. It then retrieves the appropriate data and emails the notification. Sequel has been a very useful tool for our applications.”

Deb Dougherty, Senior Claims Programmer/Analyst, describes another use of Sequel and the Sequel Web Interface. “We contract with a vendor who takes initial claim calls for us. It’s important that, when they receive a claim call, they can pull up information on that policy. This particular vendor had never worked with System i data before. We needed to find a format that they could handle, so we chose XML. They received an IP address to the Sequel Web Interface, and they’re very happy with it. They run a Sequel script that controls everything and prompts them for the policy number. Sequel then goes out to our System i and retrieves the data in XML format, which the vendor’s programs read and display to the claims taker. The whole project was completed in only a few weeks.”

Sequel has proven to the National Farmers community that it is more than just another query and reporting product. The views, reports, and scripting functions of Sequel come together with ViewPoint or the Sequel Web Interface to format and deliver System i data. As the National Farmers community continues to grow and serve more clients, it knows it can count on Sequel to get information to those who need it—quickly and efficiently.

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