ICTA Nomination: Echelon Insurance Derives Quick Benefits from Core Systems Replacement

2015 ICTA Nomination.  

Echelon is a national insurer with a regional focus, and offers a variety of products with differing operational processes. The standardization of products and operations, without losing the regional touch, played a critical role in the success of the company. However, since 2012, digitalization has become the backbone of Echelon’s IS/IT department’s strategy.

Digitalization forced Echelon to rethink and elevate its standardization approach. It has shifted the center of gravity of the fundamental business model to support electronic channels, content and transactions. It is an operative revolution. The new focus is on how the broker wants to do business with Echelon Insurance as opposed to how Echelon Insurance wants to operate the business. Echelon wants to connect to the brokers’ and insureds’ heartbeat and moves the spotlight from operations to marketing. The future depends on the integration and alignment of channels that stitch together people, processes, technologies and data in order to provide consistent services to the broker and the insured.

This rationale drove the requirements for a new policy management system, which will serve the broker first, and then operations. Echelon Insurance decided to engage the GIS system to become its go-forward platform. The important criteria used to make this decision were:

  • Support of independence in the broker channel to provide flexible options to do business with Echelon;
  • Easy to use & effective technology that provides beginning to end processing with underwriting by exception;
  • Product & Underwriting guidelines that are consistent.

The policyholder and mostly the next-generation customer expect E-services with better communications and electronic content. Offering the policyholder a choice of how they receive their official insurance documents (including contracts and certificate) and supporting electronic communications are critical success factors in meeting the needs of the next-generation customer; for example:

  • View my policy;
  • Make basic policy changes;
  • Submit claims and substantiating documentation;
  • View or pay insurance bills;
  • Send email or message;
  • Obtain quote.

The implementation of GIS July 2, 2014, enabled the business to provide faster turnaround time on policies and policy changes, and allowed underwriters to develop new insurance products and services to meet our broker’s changing needs. GIS provides a platform for a business-rule driven, customer-based computer system which included a functionally rich interface to brokers. It offers Insurance market knowledge and trends analysis to aid in customer retention and acquisition. The system also provides pre-authorized chequing and electronic funds transfer options to our customers.

The GIS system can respond quickly to the market place to add new products and features just by changing the business rules tables without having to go through system programming changes. Brokers can also handle changes in deductibles, payment plans, policy wordings, and rates through the business rule tables.

All of the underwriting, claims, finance, and reinsurance processes in GIS are completely integrated. When an underwriter sets up a new policy, it is immediately available to the Claims area to record any claims as well as to finance to maintain payment agreements. Reinsurance personnel receive notification of facultative agreements required on their work-in-progress lists, process the required facultative agreement and then the application notifies the direct underwriter that facultative has been bound. The underwriter will then proceed to issue the policy – all with the same version of the policy, on-line, in real time. Finally, underwriting, finance, and claims information is automatically interfaced to Echelon’s GL system.

This provides brokers with:

  • Seamless connectivity – GIS accepts data directly from Broker/agents’ broker management systems and flows the data through credit checking to processing within GIS in real-time. Auto/Property transactions are supported including new business, policy changes and inquiry. All major BMSs are compliant (PowerBroker, CIM, SiG, TAM-old version, DELTEK). Once the transaction is completed, the payment can be captured and the Policy Declaration in PDF format is sent to the broker. GIS provides Underwriting by exception processing. In this process, the underwriter does not handle clearly acceptable applications, but does the review of unacceptable applications.
  • Downloaded policy information – Once a policy is created or changed, GIS downloads the policy transaction to CSIOnet and lets the broker request the update to their Broker Management System.
  • eDocs (CSIOnet) – Allows the policy documents (usually PDFs) to be downloaded directly from GIS to a broker’s BMS via CSIOnet. The transfer is attached to the data. The transmitted documents are stored automatically in the broker’s BMS without the need for manual intervention.
  • A rich broker portal – This gives the broker secure web access to the Policy Declaration document, Statement of Account, Claims details, Policy Inquiry, Billing preferences and reports. As well master and sub broker information can be maintained.

It provides Underwriting and Claims with one Policy Management system for:

  • Operations – GIS standardizes business operations across Canada.
  • Increasing speed to market for new products – GIS is table driven. Expert Users can define new products with low IT involvement.
  • Finance – GIS integrates Reinsurance, Accounts Receivable and Accounts Payable with Underwriting and Claims which simplifies the back office process model.
  • Business Growth – GIS facilitates the integration of new acquisition(s) as it is user friendly which increases ease of adoption.
  • Customer Retention – GIS is customer based instead of policy based which is essential for product bundling’s discounts. It also provides a dashboard that facilitates the support to service the consumer.

EGI’s Eastern region has 49 brokers that currently use the Download EDI each day. 14 brokers operate new business and endorsement with the Upload component. 26 brokers process Commercial Property business through Policy Works.

The overall deployment across Canada is planned for 2 years. Currently our Eastern Region uses GIS and we are currently planning the deployment to our Western branch office.

Below are three broker testimonials that say a lot about the benefit the GIS Policy Management system delivers to the broker:

“Using the download ability from ICPEI provides my brokerage with the ability to integrate information from my clients existing policy into our quoting system. This allows for quicker results in quoting when clients are changing vehicles/adding drivers etc. ICPEI’s portal is very user friendly. The payment schedule is easy to follow for past and future payment changes and all information relevant to the policy is easily accessible and easy to understand.”
– Christy Silvestri, Eisenhauer Insurance, Halifax, NS

“The broker online service system is one of the easiest, user friendly systems in our office. With one key stroke, all the information needed is on one page. From that page, it is easy access and titles are very clear as to where you need to go to find information. The forms library is also user friendly. Again all on one page for whatever form is required to retrieve. The EDOC is so convenient. I do not have any others to compare for EDOCS, but I can’t imagine it being any easier than what this system provides.”
– Millie Pettigrew, Fulton Insurance agencies Ltd., Truro, NS

“We at Antigonish Farmers’ Mutual Insurance Agency are new to the Echelon family. I am very impressed at how easy it is to do business. The broker portal is very simple to navigate. I like that we are given an admin log in and then set up our own users are required. The customer service line is great and the turn around time on new applications is excellent.”
Antigonish Farmers’ Mutual Insurance Company, Antigonish, NS


The major benefits are in three areas:

User-friendly system:

  • Cost training reduction from 15 days to 3 days;
  • User Documentation elimination as GIS has a context menu;
  • Users can make light policy modifications, resulting in a 75% savings.

Increased underwriting availability:

  • Reduces underwriting’s manual intervention of new policies by 25%;
  • Eliminates manual data entry by 75%;
  • Reduces IBC errors by 90%.

Eases broker interaction with Echelon:

  • New business including the payment, bound within 15 minutes compared to 4 days;
  • Increased data accuracy;
  • Decreased policy declaration printing by 10% using EDOCS transfer or pull.

About Echelon Insurance

Founded in 2003, with an initial IPO in Dec 2005, Echelon Insurance operates in the property and casualty insurance industry in Canada. It underwrites non-standard automobile insurance and other specialty insurance products. For more information, visit www.egi.ca.

Source: Echelon Insurance