AFSC offerings online for Albertans

AFSC offerings online for Albertans
- 6, 2010

Over the past three years, Agriculture Financial Services Corporation (AFSC) has turned its focus online by developing eDelivery systems to assist Alberta producers. These online products were created in response to producers, who have been looking at new and more convenient ways to help manage their business risk options online.

The start of online services
The initial venture into online delivery was the creation of the myAFSC.ca site, which was designed to help producers fill out their AgriStability (previously the Canadian Agricultural Income Stabilization (CAIS) program) forms. On this site, producers could access their information on previous CAIS / AgriStability claims and historic data, and also had the choice of using eForms to submit their Supplementary Forms.

Not only has myAFSC made it easier to submit supplementary forms, it has also resulted in a much quicker turnaround for any benefits issued.

"The stats show that an application submitted via eForms is processed days sooner than a paper filed form submitted on the same date," said Mac Cruickshank, supervisor in AFSC's Business Risk Management (BRM) area. "There are fewer errors with eForms and edit checks to help catch inconsistent information upfront."

When myAFSC was completed for the 2007 program year, producers submitted 2,943 eForms. By 2008, the number rose to 4,113, and BRM representatives say the numbers look even more promising for 2009.

"The response from users or from their authorized representative has been very positive," explained Cruickshank. "I think it is evident in the increased numbers of submissions from 2007-2008."

The eForms pre-populate the current year's opening values with last year's closing values, saving time and reducing errors. The electronic nature of the system ensures that AFSC receives the submission right away. No fax lines to fight through or mail delays. Eventually, myAFSC.ca will merge with AFSC's new eDelivery online insurance website, but for now the two will remain separate.

Made in Alberta solution for cattle producers
Last year, AFSC developed a new online delivery system for insurance programs. The Cattle Price Insurance Program (CPIP), a new program for Alberta feedlot producers, was developed to be available online. The Cattle Price Insurance Program (CPIP) is a first-of-its-kind program in Canada.

"CPIP is an effective, made-in-Alberta tool that gives feedlots the ability to manage their price risk and basis risk," explained Jennifer Wood, CPIP Coordinator at AFSC. "Through CPIP, we have created a market driven program that is simple to understand and accessible to producers online due to the timely nature of the program."

Since its launch, CPIP has had roughly one-quarter of feedlots using the program, and half the feedlots in Alberta have signed up for the program.

"There has been great interest in CPIP, and many people watch the premiums that are available on AFSC's public website, www.afsc.ca," said Wood.

The majority of producers using CPIP have embraced the online component and take advantage of monitoring the program on their own time as well as completing purchases and claims from their home or business computer.

"In the beginning, some producers did visit their local District Office for assistance," said Wood, adding that with any new program, program glitches are normal. "We have appreciated the patience received from producers, and have worked hard to resolve these issues."

In September 2009, CPIP was officially launched for fed cattle in Alberta, breaking new ground for AFSC because this was the first time producers could pay online for an AFSC-offered program. It also opened the door for the development of other online products through AFSC's new online insurance technology.

AFSC is currently working on additional cattle price insurance products, which will allow producers to insure their yearlings and calves.

eDelivery in 2010
This May, AFSC launched Straight Hail Online. This program gives clients another option when purchasing their Straight Hail Insurance. In the past, hail agents would deal directly with customers and would then provide AFSC with the coverage information. Staff at the District Offices were also able to help clients purchase straight hail insurance. Both of these options are still available in addition to the online option.

The goal of this project is to get clients online so they can purchase their hail insurance easily and conveniently from their own home at any time that is convenient to them.

"The system was designed based on feedback from clients and is part of AFSC's long term strategy of enhancing the delivery of risk management products to clients," said Lorelei Hulston, AFSC Insurance Manager.