York Fire maintains competitive edge by adopting iter8�s automated exception-based underwriting technology
York Fire and Casualty Insurance Company, a subsidiary of Kingsway Financial Services Inc., recognized that in order to support the company�s rapid growth major changes in underwriting were required. Manual processing needed to be phased out, and a flexible, user-friendly system needed to be brought in.
Colin Simpson, President of York Fire mentioned, �We weren�t meeting our service standards and we frequently experienced �the four i�s� � incomplete, illegible, ineligible, inaccurate data. We needed to Automate our internal processes and our Broker/Agent interactions.�
Licensed in Alberta and Ontario, York Fire began seeking a solution late in 2003. �We sought a platform-independent, cost-effective solution with the agility to adapt quickly,� says Simpson. �We wanted our underwriters to use it internally and Broker producers to access it via a portal. iter8�s service-oriented architecture (SOA) solution offered these capabilities and permitted us to modernize systematically, while also allowing us to automate new processes as new markets and products developed.�
Upon finalizing an agreement with iter8, an implementation team headed by the underwriting manager, IT and iter8 was formed. To optimize deployment speed, the project was split into three phases: new auto policies, new property policies and policy changes for both. As well the phased approach ensured tangible results were produced in a defined, measurable manner. �Wins� could occur along the way and keep the implementation team motivated, and users excited about seeing frequent system improvements. �Auto was selected for the first Phase because that�s where the bulk of our growth was occurring,� comments Simpson.
To accommodate iter8 solutions on York Fire�s Microsoft LAN, a Web server and an application server were purchased and deployed. In addition, the IT department made investments in shifting their talent from focusing on legacy system maintenance to programming and administering new technologies.
From weeks to hours
By October 2004 the system rolled out internally to underwriters. �Processing a policy dropped from weeks to hours because underwriters focused on exceptions rather than administration,� Simpson notes. �We�ve saved 40 percent on headcount and staff morale has improved because underwriters aren�t spending so much time on clerical chores.�
Early in 2005 the external rollout began with a half-day kickoff and training session for 200 independent brokers. Brokers signed on throughout the year, and could choose to submit new business via a real-time EDI upload, or through the York Fire portal interface. During 2006, York Fire worked on Phases 2 & 3, with Policy Changes and Property New Business live in 2007. York Fire has now turned their focus to Commercial Product lines, and is beginning a multi-phased project with iter8 beginning in 2008.
Beyond the efficiencies anticipated from iter8, York Fire and its producers have remained competitive despite the emergence of direct-writing. �Focusing our employees and our producers on their areas of expertise has increased policyholder retention rates 10 percent since February 2005,� notes Simpson. �And our producers report strong customer retention rates. Overall, we�ve remained profitable.�
Details at a Glance
Company: York Fire and Casualty Insurance Company ( a subsidiary of Kingsway Financial Services, Mississauga, Ontario, US $4 billion in total assets). For more information, visit www.york-fire.com
Lines of Business: Auto and Property Commercial and Personal
Vendor/technology: Automated exception-based underwriting solution and broker portal from iter8 (Toronto). For more information, visit http://www.iter8.com/
Challenge: Automate underwriting and rating to increase efficiency, improve speed of processing, attract new brokers, and improve policy holder retention.
For more information about iter8, please visit http://www.iter8.com/.