Five Business Capabilities Essential to Personalized Digital Experiences

You have heard a lot – likely an awful lot – about the ways advances in technology are impacting customer experience in the insurance industry: how they drive service beyond what customers expect by adapting with them as their lives change, by managing changes to their plans and policies with ease, and by offering a consistent experience across platforms and interactions. All that’s needed is to tap into it, right? Not so fast, say those in the trenches.

EIS Group Recognized as a Visionary in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for P&C Core Platforms, North America

2017 has been a heady year for insurance technology. The widespread embrace of new digital experience solutions, the explosion of interest in AI, and the rapid absorption of new insurtech by mainstream insurers have helped provide extra momentum. It has brought into sharp relief the inextricable relationship between systems of record and systems of engagement and the need for platforms that foster that relationship. Creating just such a platform has been at the heart of EIS Group’s technology approach. For this reason, it is hugely gratifying to find ourselves recognized as a Visionary in Gartner’s “Magic Quadrant for P&C Core Platforms, North America”*, which is “an update of the ‘Magic Quadrant for Property and Casualty Insurance Policy Management Modules, North America’ published in January 2016."

Going Digital? Customer Expectations have Big Implications

As insurers drive to expand and grow in an increasingly digital marketplace, it is understood that excellent customer service is no longer a standout, but a standard. In the last two years, the number one strategic investment across the insurance industry has been in improving customer engagement. Why so much emphasis?

Insurance Disruption Managed with Agile + DevOps + Cloud

Few would dispute that in the long history of insurance there has been a disruption in the fundamental process around how carriers acquire, service and maintain their client base that comes anywhere close to the scale we are experiencing today. Insurer business units and their colleagues in IT operations and system development need ways to respond to the challenge. None wish to be caught holding stone chisels in a digital world.

Is Mass Personalization Your Key to Winning on Main Street?

How to make your benefits products a good fit for small businesses

Looked at from a marketing lens, my personal truth is that I am a demographic of one. And anyone who can grasp that and understands my needs and preferences will score some serious points and wallet share. This type of mass personalization could be key to successful benefits insurance small case marketing on Main Street.

Where Do Insurers Get the Highest Value from Cloud Operations?

DevOps and the cloud are powering change and delivering business value to insurers, as CSAA Insurance Group discovered via an automated testing environment upgrade and an AWS migration

The value of the cloud means different things to different people. Security, scalability, and rapid provisioning of infrastructure are often mentioned and understood. And then there is software development and IT operations. The mashup of both is called DevOps and it is changing the speed to value equation of technology initiatives and is itself powering cloud adoption. For insurers faced with product complexity and managing large transformations, cloud-based DevOps offers tantalizingly tangible speed to value. And panelists in a session at the IASA 2017 conference explained how it all works and provided a stellar instance of where one insurer realized tremendous value.

You Can Do What? A Zero Data Entry, Bot-Enabled Quote, Buy and Claim?

 Forget “15 minutes could save you 15% on car insurance.” This popular insurance advertising meme makes me want to ask wouldn’t your customers prefer to save not only more time and money, but the effort also? This is precisely the new value that is being achieved with new digital engagement technologies, and customers like it.

Is Small the New Big? Small Businesses are Opportunity for Benefits Insurers

You have surely heard it said that small businesses are the growth engine for America.  Today, the phrase has a special ring to it for benefits insurers. The small business market is often viewed as an opportunity attractive to growth-minded insurers because the focus of the majority of carriers is on the larger, highly-competitive end of the market.

A Lesson in Adapting and Surviving ACA Disruption for Benefits Insurers

Something normal happened during Mardi Gras this year in New Orleans. Amongst all the chaos, a conference broke out. Workplace Benefits Renaissance held its annual event. The meeting draws notable thought leaders and personalities within the industry and, if you were able to resist the revelry in the streets, there were some interesting stories heard and lessons shared.

In Season: Technology Advances and Standards Ripen Cloud Option for Insurers

Think you have heard all you need to know about the benefits of cloud deployment of enterprise solutions? Get ready for more because cloud is finally in season and bearing good fruit for insurers. The latest news is Amazon Web Services (AWS) announcing its financial services competency program to the marketplace, indicating a strong focus by one of the largest cloud providers on an important vertical. EIS is pleased to have been a launch partner for the initiative. So what is the significance of the AWS move? Industry observers were quick to weigh in on how it influences insurers’ choices and approaches for core systems in the cloud.

It’s Groundhog Day for Benefits Enrollment Technology

Photo courtesy of http://bit.ly/1tVwkpT

On February 2, Groundhog Day, something different happened at the annual LIMRA Enrollment Technology Strategy Seminar (ETSS). For the last three years, EIS Group has sponsored ETSS and each year, the latest approaches and challenges to benefits enrollment are discussed. But just as the venerable Punxsutawney Phil himself is prone to do, each year the attendees see their long shadows – of legacy technology constraints – and withdraw to comfortable, insulated dens rather than embrace an early spring of much-needed change. Not this year. For the first time, the conference coalesced around the root cause of enrollment problems: connectivity.

It’s 2017! Time for Insurers to Think About 2018

When the ball dropped on 2017 it opened another pivotal year for digital transition.  Some insurers feel poised for digital success. For many others, small gains have been hard won and their positive business impacts quickly muted by a fast-moving business landscape. 2016 compounded their conundrum by exposing the vulnerable underbelly of insurers, Uber-style, to new business models—such as on demand insurance—new entrants, and emerging InsurTech. If all this caught you by surprise, and you have not had time to formulate a response, 2017 is now or never. Sorry, the party will have to wait.

Insurance Doing Digital Right. Who, How and Why?

What side of the digital divide are you on? You’ll find the answer in the new ACORD/Genpact report, Assessing Digital Impact Across Insurer and Channel Operations, which offers insight into the traits that make up either a digital leader or a laggard. It turns out that the great majority of “digital leaders” are those companies that have successfully aligned the back and middle office with the front office.

Put Your Head in the Cloud If You Have the Need for Speed

A recent announcement from Liberty Mutual shared with the industry how they leveraged our EIS Suite™ software and the power of the AWS cloud to create a new, single cloud-based platform for their benefits business unit. The implementation timeline was very aggressive and called for an accelerated schedule of getting from scope to live in under seven months. The implementation team creditably accomplished the goal and they did so by following modern software delivery practices.

Can Insurers Win the Battle for Tech Talent?

The tech talent battle is waging and at this point insurers are not faring well. The competition is stiff across all sectors for much in demand skill-sets needed for success in the digital age. The problem for insurers is part perception, part reality. Insurance is not on the radar of millennials as an exciting career, and many insurers are still transitioning from a legacy technology. Where is the cool stuff that fresh and smart tech talent wants to work with? Insurers will need to scrutinize their technology choices and strategies if they want to attract critical talent to scaffold the next century of insurance.

When Did Insurance Get So Cool?

Drones, bots, blockchain, AI and machine learning are what everybody is suddenly talking about. Start-ups with cool names like Trov, Slice, Goji and WeSavvy are the talk of the insurance town, yet just a year or two ago core transformation toward becoming a digital insurer was all the rage, and the names of core vendors filled the headlines. Now, it seems like all the cool stuff is happening peripherally to the core and some great examples peppered the lively discussion of Insurtech and next-gen insurance at the recent SMA Summit.

Why Say "No" When "Yes" Is So Much Better?

When it comes to benefits insurance market expansion…it’s good to be a “yes” man 

What stood out this year at the LIMRA Group and Worksite Benefits Conference was all of the talk around small businesses. Yes, it is an election year. But no, this was not just an echo of every candidate’s familiar refrain about how small business is the growth engine for America and must be supported. For benefits insurers, this is an every year issue. Carriers struggle to make small business a plank in their platform for business growth. The result is that growth opportunities are left on the table while the majority of carriers are forced to battle over the same books of business in the large and jumbo case markets.

What is Your Core Customer Intelligence Score?

How smart do insurers have to be to engage customers? Just how much customer data from sources near and far and how much analysis of customer behavior is necessary to create an effective engagement model? The answer may as well be, “How much money are you willing to spend?” Overlooked, however, is the fact that core systems data is actually customer insight lying in plain sight.  How can insurers get at it and use it for intelligent engagement? Why must they?

Gain a Competitive Edge with a Unified Rating Platform

In part one of this series on rating systems, we looked at how traditional development processes can expose your insurance business to risk. Among the most serious of these are having a single point of failure in your pricing model and the financial risks that result from long development cycles that limit how often you can update pricing. In this post, we take a look at a new approach that enables you to complete a rating initiative by defining and deploying rating models, tables, and algorithms in a fraction of the time, while empowering you to safeguard your margins by revising pricing as often as your business demands.

Looking for a New Pacesetter at LIMRA’s Enrollment Tech Event

Last week I had the pleasure of joining my industry colleagues at the LIMRA 2016 Enrollment Technology Strategy Seminar in Charlotte, NC. We spent a fun evening at the NASCAR Hall of Fame which also presented me with an interesting juxtaposition because NASCAR is a sport based on speed, strategy and serious horsepower, yet our industry has been stuck behind the pace car for quite some time.

Who is the current pacesetter?  It’s the majority of group benefits insurers with legacy systems that lack the horsepower necessary for their business to move up in the field.

Insurance Technology:  More Uniting, Less Dividing, Please

Technology can be both a tool and a tyrant, and the theme of this week’s Insurance-Canada Technology Conference—Technology: A Two-Edged Sword—depicted that reality. If designed, implemented, or used incorrectly, technology can divide and weaken rather than unite and strengthen an insurer’s position in the market. Recognition of this fact is increasing as evidenced in the many conversations that took place at the conference reflecting the need for more unified organizations and unified technology to support them. And the key driving force? The customer.

2016: Half-Time Adjustment for Voluntary Benefits

Something is altering the basis of competition in the voluntary benefits marketplace

As we get ready for Super Bowl 50, there’s no better lesson for business than the half-time adjustments made by coaches and players.  Teams go into the big game with a plan that they’ve prepared and practiced all week and when they show up, they are ready to execute.  This is not too dissimilar to how some of the group benefits carriers have planned and prepared for the shifts within the voluntary benefits marketplace and have been putting up points. 

7 Essential Technologies for Engaging Insurance Customers

You got the email. “We need to improve our customer experience. Our conversion and retention numbers are down. What can you do?”  In fact, you got several emails and briefings from marketing and line-of-business leaders, and you were copied on a complaint from a key producer citing frustrated policyholders. You know what it will take, but how do you explain in a simple and concise way to peers that it will entail a whole new level of integration between your sales, marketing, and core systems?

360° Customer View: You Can Look, but Can You Touch?

Like the lives of so many celebrities and reality show families, whose relationships and daily interactions are splashed across our screens, insurers’ views of their customers present the same frustrating dilemma: sometimes they want to reach into the customers’ world and try to help influence decisions. But just like on TV, it seems today’s insurers can look, but aren’t actually touching their customers. True customer engagement continues to evade even the savviest of carriers. 

7 Key Takeaways from the SMA Summit

My role at EIS Group allows me to attend a lot of industry events throughout the year. Most are focused on technology, innovation, and change, but only a select few deliver the level of value provided by the annual SMA Summit

I left this year’s Summit with new insights and ideas, so I am sharing my “top 7 takeaways” in this blog.

Are We Still Talking About Suite vs Best of Breed?

It has been a perennial topic. Much has been said and copious ink spilt on the suite vs best-of-breed core system debate. Adding to it, I recently participated in a webinar hosted by Insurance Networking News entitled “Have Suites Won the Policy Admin War?” It reviewed the pros and cons of implementing full suite core systems vs integrating various best-of-breed solutions. But this time I found it hard to repress the thought: “Why are we still talking about this? The war is indeed over. “

Power of Peers: Who’s Got the Game Plan for Legacy Replacement?

Where do you get a game plan for a game you have never played?     

The St. Louis Cardinals recently got themselves into a scalding pot of legal and ethical hot water for their alleged hack of the Houston Astros database. Baseball pundits speculate that the Cardinals knew exactly what they were looking for, where to find it and the competitive advantage it held for their game plan. 

This isn’t the case for many insurers as they undertake core insurance systems replacements, often for the first time in their careers.

Is Collaboration the Weapon that Wins the War with Tech Giants?

“Technology is at war with the insurance industry, but insurance doesn’t know it yet.” 

These words by Steve Mariano, CEO of Patriot National, in his keynote at the recent ITA LIVE conference stirred attendees and promoted vigorous discussion and post-event commentary. No doubt his statement was intended to provoke and well it should.

Mariano did not mean that insurers are fighting to implement or utilize technology solutions (although many of those with legacy core systems may feel that way). Instead, his point is that insurers are in a widening battle with technology giants such as Amazon, Google and Apple for their traditional markets. Flush with cash and high market valuations, these technology titans have declared and undeclared interests in parlaying their technology and customer connections into premium margin.

Survey says…the road ahead looks promising, but technology continues to be a hazard

The results are in from our second annual Enrollment Technology Survey, and guess what? There are really no surprises. The results of our survey of LIMRA Enrollment Technology Conference attendees and others didn’t show large differences with our 2014 survey. But, like a tipping point being reached in a slow arch, some small measures give clues to the direction of insurer initiatives in enrollment plans and enrollment technology.  And unfortunately, technology infrastructure limitations are still standing in the way of insurers being able to execute their growth strategies.

Digital insurance: A clear forecast in Canada for insurers, customers, and brokers?

This year’s Toronto ICTC event was ablaze with early spring optimism as the snow melted outside. The Insurance-Canada.ca team put together a very forward-thinking agenda with the theme of “The Digital Customer Experience.” It brought to town insurance experts and executives ready to explore a broad array of trend topics from geospatial risk management, cyber risk, social data analysis, and telematics to connected home, connected car, and omnichannel solutions. 

               

Policyholders Will Love That Omnichannel Feeling

“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.―Maya Angelou

“Customer intimacy” might be the latest catchphrase in customer experience, but I wonder how policyholders really feel about being more intimate with their insurance company. How close do they really want to be? If customer intimacy provides a feeling of comfort, of being taken care of, of being treated consistently—as a numero uno—then I suspect most policyholders would fully embrace the concept. And if the carrier can truly deliver on that promise, then you basically have a match made in heaven. Indeed, loyal customers have up to three times the net promoter value of passive customers. 

Breaking thru Barriers (and Blizzards) for Innovation

Last week 85 benefits enrollment and technology professionals braved record levels of snow to make it to Boston, Massachusetts—not to see Tom Brady ride a Duck Boat with the Lombardi trophy, but to attend the LIMRA 2015 Enrollment Technology Seminar. 

Are You Ready for the Next Google?

 “Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf?” asks the popular nursery rhyme. While it's hardly surprising that Google is poised to pilot its auto insurance comparison shopping site in Q1, given the hints and speculation, it's still an ominous portent. Forrester analyst Ellen Carney describes this development as having “big implications for insurers.” However, the question this news asks insurers might be better framed as “Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf pack?” For as big as Google is, it is not a lone wolf.

The overarching threat for insurers is disruption of the prevailing distribution ecosystem by new entrants. Speculation about other entrants includes Amazon and Apple, but a host of interested companies—some already active, such as Overstock and Walmart—when considered together have the power to change insurance distribution. Distribution is currently a crowded space of agents, brokers, aggregators, banks, retailers, exchanges, and other parties. A recent Accenture Global Research study quantified the threat as two-thirds (67 percent) of insurance customers who would consider purchasing insurance products from organizations other than insurers, including 23 percent who would consider buying from online service providers such as Google and Amazon. 

Underwriting Improvements a Top Trend for 2015 and Beyond

                                  

As 2015 ramps up, predictions for the coming year(s) are populating information channels, and many, will no doubt, highlight the advancing efforts to enhance, expand, and improve underwriting functionality, productivity and profitability.  Rising above the host of technology trends and flavors of the day, one commonality remains for insurers:  underwriting is a key driver of growth and profitability. Insurers will focus on leveraging technology to improve underwriting for some time to come.

2015: The Year for Getting at the Core of Innovation

As we embark on a new year, I’m reflecting on conversations I’ve had in the past year with many industry thought leaders and insurance executives who have opined about the future of insurance. I’m also pondering how much was written about the innovations and market disruption from technology advances (e.g., digitalization, the Internet of Things, big data, mobility etc.) and the shift in consumer experience from companies such as Amazon.com, Apple, and Google. The great news for 2015 is that opportunities exist to innovate like never before, in both the product space and the consumer experience. I’m not going to rehash all of those opportunities, though, since I’d rather talk about the number one barrier to achieving them—the hindrance of legacy systems and the aversion to the risk of replacing them.

From Web, to Mobile, to Call Center and Back – the New Normal for Customers

Remember when the model for engaging with consumers was as simple as sending out enrollers with disconnected laptops and that was considered high tech? How times have changed. It's now a consumer-centric environment where consumers expect to choose how, where and when to interact. In a consumer-centric environment expectations run high, the long term success rate of group-based carriers and voluntary insurers depends on the ability to interact in an omnichannel environment – a bar set particularly high by the retail industry. The fact is, given the sheer range of channel options and product choices that exist in the marketplace today, insurers have a tremendous opportunity to build a strong connection with consumers.  

Reinventing Core Systems for Group and Voluntary Insurers: A Time for Change

Carriers competing in the employee benefits space have long recognized the benefits of aligning to their distribution partnerships. In fact, they did this extremely well for the past 30 years as carriers custom built their own core systems based on the products that they sold, to the markets they sold them and the channels they sold them through.  It was a comfortable silo and it worked, until... 

Can Enhanced Enrollment Connectivity be a Business Driver?

Enrollment options are expanding. With dozens of third-party vendors (including the emergence of new market places that include public and private exchanges) the opportunity for carriers to successfully increase their enrollment rates and get their products out to the various markets has never been greater.

Exchanges: Better for all, but hard on insurers; reflections on the LIMRA Benefits Conference

I recently attended the 2014 LIMRA Group and Worksite Benefits Conference at Baltimore Harbor which has grown dramatically, driven by the disruption and opportunity to be found in the US group and worksite benefits marketplace. There were excellent prepared sessions and many good discussions at the conference, which left me thinking of what I see as the next conundrum in this market, the need for simplicity, transparency and clean customer experiences in a complex business. It seemed almost every session had the word “Exchange” somewhere in the title and most were trying to explain how exchanges of various kinds benefit insurers, employers and consumers, and how to leverage the opportunity this transformation presents. It was stated that exchanges are making things simpler for all parties: broker, insurer, employer and employee. But these new automated marketplaces make things considerably more complex for insurers. 

Exigen Enablement on IBM Cloud-Ready Platform an Industry First; Subject of First IBM Innovation Center Case Study

Exigen Insurance Solutions achieved an industry first with its recent enablement of Exigen Suite on IBM PureApplication Virtual Application Pattern (VAP) with DB2 database server, the first full insurance core systems solution to do so.  The VAP deployment culminated a series of engagements with the IBM Innovation Center which earned Exigen the honor of becoming the subject of the Center’s first partner case study.

Exigen Suite for Group Benefits Addresses Technology Gaps in a Market Undergoing Change

The introduction of Exigen Suite™ for Group Benefits is generating a lot of interest among insurers offering group benefits products and has been well-received by analysts familiar with this segment’s market conditions and pressing technology needs.  

“As a modern, configurable system based on open standards, Exigen brings a new option into an underserved market,” said Chad Hersh, managing director in the insurance practice at Novarica.  “Few systems adequately address the unique needs of the group benefits space, including the robust flexibility and scale requirements. Market forces demand greater investment in technology as insurers seek to build more effective channels that market to employees directly, while dealing with the convergence of traditional group and voluntary insurance and customer desire for greater control over their benefits.”

Exigen Suite for Group Benefits provides insurers with a technology response to the business, regulatory and social drivers that are reshaping the Group Benefits market.  The Exigen Suite offers plan management for group and worksite products – life, disability, accident and health, and medical – that accommodates all classes of participant and all billing options from non-contributory to voluntary. The solution includes all policy admin, billing and claims functions and provides insurers with unparalleled flexibility to manage product offerings and distribution across a wide spectrum of the market. Through the built-in customer relationship management (CRM) module insurers, worksite sponsor companies and brokers get a full on-line account view of customers. The solution also meets the growing demand by plan participants to view and manage their products online and on mobile devices.

"As the group and voluntary insurance markets converge, changing distribution and service models will strain IT application architectures and legacy systems past the breaking point,” said Chuck Johnston, director, Americas Life/Annuity & Group Practice with Celent’s Insurance Group. “Insurers and brokers have underinvested in group and voluntary insurance solutions over the last 20-plus years, and will struggle to meet new market requirements. Celent believes that compelling new solution offerings in the group administration space will come from property & casualty (P&C) vendors leveraging their multi-coverage, multiple insurance object models to meet the unique needs of this market.”

Key features of Exigen Suite for Group Benefits include:

  • A single multi-line platform for group and worksite insurance that reduces cost and provides greater control of distribution;  
  • A single view of the customer to improve service and increase cross-sell opportunities;
  • Simplified eligibility and enrollment that saves time and increases accuracy;
  • Flexible billing as a strategy to improve customer relationships; and
  • Full real-time self-service for participants, brokers and sponsors.

“By consolidating disparate line of business systems into one and leveraging the ultra-configurability of Exigen Suite, we expect insurers to reduce operation and IT costs by more than 30 percent and to grow by controlling more of the value chain and being able to more quickly enter markets,” said Adam Denninger, SVP, Commercial Markets, Exigen Insurance Solutions.

Get more information here.

AAA NCNU Insurance Exchange Recognized as 2013 Model Insurer as Personal Lines Products Roll-out Continues

Congratulations to customer AAA Northern California, Nevada & Utah Insurance Exchange for their recognition as a Celent 2013 Model Insurer for policy administration. Several Insurance Exchange and Exigen staff were on hand in Boston in February at the awards ceremony that highlighted the benefits of the company’s transition to a new policy administration system and their utilization of effective change management practices to accomplish it.  

Best’s Review 2013 Innovation Award to NBIC - Increases in Revenue, Efficiency and Distribution on Exigen SaaS Core Systems Recognized

It was a great way to start the year! We were very pleased to get the news that Narragansett Bay Insurance Company (NBIC) had been chosen to Best’s Review’s 2013 Innovation Showcase. Our congratulations to NBIC and its CIO Mike Anselmo and his team.  NBIC is one of ten companies in the showcase recognized for forward-thinking among insurance organizations.

NBIC Nets a 2012 CIO 100 Award for its Core Systems Transformation

Every year, the CIO 100 Awards honor 100 companies that demonstrate excellence and achievement in innovation and business value. This year, Narragansett Bay Insurance (NBIC) was among the select few for a project lead by NBIC’s CIO, Mike Anselmo. Exigen Insurance is pleased to congratulate Mike and NBIC for their success and recognition for what CIO magazine describes as “using IT in innovative ways to deliver competitive advantage to the enterprise and enable growth.”

Exigen Suite Certified and Ready to Go on IBM’s New PureSystems

Today IBM announced its new family of expert integrated systems, IBM PureSystems. We’re very pleased to be among a select list of IBM’s business partners certified on PureSystems. PureSystems is a new class of systems that combines the flexibility of general purpose systems, the elasticity of cloud and the simplicity of an appliance with integrated expertise to change the experience and economics of IT.

How to Maximize Scalability in SaaS Insurance Core Systems Design

A key benefit of a software-as-a-service deployment is scalability. Indeed, employing well-designed SaaS solutions can offer near linear scalability. The benefit comes not only from the platform and infrastructure design. Sometimes overlooked, the software design itself also plays a big role.

AAA NCNU Insurance Exchange Deploys Exigen Policy Administration, Billing and Distribution Solutions

Roll-out of Auto Products in California Introduces AAA NCNU Insurance Exchange’s Multi-state Business Transformation and Technology Modernization

Exigen Insurance Solutions announces that AAA Northern California, Nevada, and Utah (NCNU) Insurance Exchange has rolled out Exigen Insurance Solutions’ policy administration and billing solutions for its California book of automobile insurance. The deployment is the first stage in providing AAA-branded personal lines insurance to more than 17 million AAA members in the 26 states served by AAA NCNU Insurance Exchange. Nearly one million auto policyholders and 1.7 million cars in California are insured by AAA NCNU.

Congratulations to NBIC CIO Mike Anselmo on Elite 8 Award

Our warmest congratulations to customer Mike Anselmo, CIO of Narragansett Bay Insurance Company (NBIC), on his 2011 Elite 8 award. Exigen Insurance has the distinct pleasure this year of offering congratulations to two of our customer CIOs on their 2011 Elite 8 awards. Mike Anselmo is joined by Karl Uphoff, CIO of global consumer lines at Chartis.

PAYD usage-based insurance: how disruptive is the business model?

In a recent blog, Insurance Networking News’ editor Bill Kenealy drew a direct parallel between the rising wave of insurer interest in telematics to a thought-provoking essay in the Wall Street Journal by Netscape founder and venture capitalist Marc Andreessen about the propensity of software to “eat” existing business models and even entire industries whole.

The Hype and Confusion Cloud

There’s quite a bit of confusion about what is what in cloud computing. This is in part due to the absence of a standard set of definitions for the three types of offerings provided in the cloud, namely infrastructure, platform, and software as a service. But I also think there’s confusion about what the “cloud” actually is. As usual with any term that is elevated to “the next big thing” in the market, everyone jumps into the fray, either to claim credit for the wagon or at least jump on the wagon before it leaves the station. This is the moment when the marketing machine is often seen to take over to redefine and repurpose everything to make it part of this new momentum. We’ve seen this trend before when suddenly all enterprise software became SOA and all hardware turned “green.” Now everything runs “in the cloud”. So as not to get caught in the undertow but to catch and ride the actual wave to your advantage, one ought to know the difference between types of currents and be able to read past the surface ripples caused by the hype.

SaaS Policy Administration System Thwarts Irene at Narragansett Bay Insurance; Delivers Built-in Disaster Recovery and Scalability

When Hurricane Irene hit Rhode Island with powerful winds and rain on Sunday, August 28, one concern that Narragansett Bay Insurance Company CIO Michael Anselmo did not have was that his company’s policy administration and billing systems would be shut down – paralyzing its ability to respond to customers. NBIC specializes in homeowners insurance in coastal areas of the Northeast, so one thing was certain – they would quickly be thrown into a period of high claims activity.  But you can’t worry about systems you don’t have. NBIC has no core systems technology infrastructure on its premises. All core systems run in multiple private clouds on remote web-based servers. This proved to be a prudent strategy that provided built-in disaster recovery and plenty of capacity for the subsequent increase in Irene-driven system volume.

Securing the Insurance Cloud

I often hear the discussion of security in the cloud limited to considerations of public, private or hybrid cloud options when the focus should really be on the degree of security enforced and managed upon a shared network. I suggest thinking of the cloud as a raw but resilient network infrastructure that has to be hardened to the desired degree that is suitable and required for a specific purpose and application, such as core systems. Critical information requires mission critical security and no less. Anyone who is using less security than required is playing with fire and exposing the enterprise and its customers to unmitigated risks. Anyone who uses more security than required is prudent up to a point beyond which the approach quickly becomes wasteful and burdensome.

BillingCore v3.6 Adds Advanced BI and Improved Customer Service Capabilities

Insurers continue to experience significant pain points around their billing operations. Many are experiencing greatest difficulty meeting growing customer service expectations, and with high customer acquisition costs, this is a real problem.  “They need solutions that create customer loyalty,” says Rowshi Pejooh, vice president of product managements, in Exigen Insurance’s announcement of BillingCore 3.6.

Succeeding with Core Systems in the Cloud

Insurance CIOs almost unanimously recognize that cloud computing can provide real benefits for their companies, including better economies of scale, elastic scalability, more flexible sourcing options and more efficient use of financial and human resources. A full 90% of those surveyed in Celent’s 2011 CIO Survey said cloud computing was already in limited use or they were investigating or piloting it in 2011. At the same time, some remain full of trepidation, concerned about the potential risks of depending on external sources to provide computing infrastructure and technology platforms, as well as application software and services. This limbo is no place to be. Mercifully, if CIOs follow some logical steps, many the same they have trod before, they can find the best strategy for their companies.

Congratulations to NBIC on its 2011 VIP Award

Congratulations to Narragansett Bay Insurance Company (NBIC) on their 2011 Vanguards in Insurance Practices Award. NBIC won third place in the prestigious Best Practices category. We are very pleased that our nomination of NBIC for its deployment of Exigen PolicyCore and BillingCore as software-as-a-service (SaaS) was recognized by the awards panel, which consisted of Insurance Networking News editors, its editorial advisory board of industry experts, and Celent’s top insurance research analysts.

Evogi Collaboration Brings Complete Usage-Based/PAYD Insurance and Telematics Solutions to Market

Exigen Insurance Solutions’ recently announced partnership with The Evogi Group is good news for insurers trying to enter the fastest-growing segment of the auto insurance market. The collaboration provides insurers full policy administration, billing, claims and account management for personal and commercial auto UBI products using telematics and GPS technology.