Kansas City-based Commerce Bank announced it has launched a real-time payments system aimed at enabling property-casualty insurers to provide faster, more convenient claims payments. The new product, CommercePayments PreferPay, provides customers, claimants and service providers with multiple claims payment options including ACH, check or direct-to-debit card via Visa Direct. 

Commerce Bank partnered with Progressive Casualty Insurance Co. to build out the initial product for Progressive customers. With the Visa Direct functionality, customers can now receive an insurance claim payout to their eligible debit and prepaid card, in real time, the bank said. Visa Direct is a service that facilitates money transfers by Visa’s client financial institutions.

“This is really built for any insurance carrier,” said Lenny Richileau, vice president and insurance industry consultant with Commerce Bank. Its PreferPay system is tailored for insurers that need to be able to pay multiple claimants through multiple accounts and payments channels under the same claim as well as including digital documents with the payments, he said. 

“To my knowledge, there aren’t other banks that are building the systems that can handle every kind of payment type across the entire spectrum that are needed by insurance companies,” he said. 

The new platform is a “game changer” for insurance companies responding to natural disasters, said Richileau, who is based at the bank’s Kansas City office. 

Earlier in his career, as a first responder with Nationwide’s Des Moines office, he was deployed to New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, tasked with providing checks to pay immediate living expenses. “It was very painful because there was nowhere for them to take a check,” he recalled. “I emptied my wallet of money to help those folks.” 

Commerce Bank has operated a commercial lending office in downtown Des Moines since May 2014 in the Equitable Building, but has had banking relationships in Iowa for the past 50 years.