2010 ICTA Winners: iter8

Honourable Mention: Technology Provider – Insurer Solutions category: iter8

iter8 was nominated by David Gallagher.

Technology Provider: iter8

iter8 Inc. is a software solutions provider to the Canadian Property and Casualty Insurance Industry. The company supplies software applications to many of Canada’s insurance carriers ranging from smaller niche players to large multinational carriers. This includes York Fire and Casualty, who have been using iter8 technology solutions for the past 6 years. iter8 products are designed to increase profitability by solving problems – centered on Broker Portals, Broker Connectivity and Underwriting Operating Excellence – through smart innovation and proven expertise in both the insurance business and in technology, implementation and service.

Reference Installation: York Fire & Casualty Insurance Company

York Fire & Casualty was founded in 1955 and since October 2008 is a subsidiary of La Capitale General Insurance, a major property & casualty insurer ranking amongst the top five largest in Quebec. From its head office in Mississauga, Ontario, York Fire offers insurance to protect consumers’ homes, cars, power sports equipment and businesses through more than 200 independent brokers in Canada. York Fire strongly believes in the value that an independent broker brings to the insurance transaction and is committed to working with brokers to preserve and strengthen their role in the distribution of Property & Casualty products in Canada.

Gross written premiums for 2009 were $112m, with over 70,000 policies in place.

Left to right: Glen Piller, iter8 (honourable mention in a technology provider category), with Bryan Bedford, York Fire & Casualty (winner in P&C Insurer category), and Doug Grant, Insurance-Canada.ca

Overview & Project Description

The independent insurance broker is York’s sole distribution channel. It represents the company’s face to consumers, and is an integral part of the company’s growth and success. A major goal for York is to deliver choice and business opportunity to brokers. Technology is a critical component of this goal, and York strives to ensure brokers have the tools necessary to deliver top-level service, and target customers that fit the York profile for risk, products and services.

These tools require CSIO XML standards to fully integrate York with its distribution channel, and ensure accurate, complete and timely information is shared across a broad broker network.

A brief listing of the technology and business processes undertaken to facilitate York/Broker interaction is below, followed by additional details:

  • York Connection (Gateway) portal was created to handle new business quote and bind. Underwriting is automated, rules are available at point-of-sale, billing and claims inquiry, and workflows to reflect broker needs for quick qualification
  • CSIO EDI AL3 download – Personal Lines Automobile and Property download to BMS
  • Real-Time, CSIO XML upload via WARP – Personal Auto and Property
  • Real-Time, CSIO XML upload via a comparative rating tool (Compu-Quote)
  • Online Broker Commission Statements
  • Portal Enhancements to handle automobile/property policy changes
  • Real-time round-trip transactions from the TAM BMS (Policy Inquiries start and end in the BMS with no portal landing)
  • Real-Time WARP endorsements from the TAM BMS. Transactions begin and end in the Broker system, leading to consistent workflow.

The technology implemented by York, and the business innovations undertaken have had an influence throughout the Canadian insurance industry, influencing other carriers and their broker channels.

Deployment of Technology

Key project ingredients include:

1) Development of a broker facing web portal

The critical focus for York was the development of a modern, connected broker portal. The portal, identified as Gateway, enabled independent brokers to submit new business including quotes/quick quotes, make policy changes, and conduct policy inquiries.

2) Development of Real-Time Connectivity (Broker Single Data Entry to achieve straight-through-processing)

York wanted brokers to be able to send material directly from their Broker Management System (A variety of solutions, including Applied Systems (TAM); Powerbroker; and Keal).

This stage in the project represented a major initiative as the goal was to automate connectivity in several manners – EDI Download from carrier to broker; XML real-time uploads for new automotive business from broker to carrier. The iter8 Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) components communic8 and collabor8 were used to complete this objective. This involved data transfer activities, as well as process automation.

The broker facing portal became a key component of this strategy as it was used to relay all changes to brokers. For brokers using TAM this could be accessed from within their system. For other broker systems notification was received, from which the brokers enter the portal and make the necessary changes.

3) Capabilities for Brokers to make direct Policy Change for the automotive line of business

Automotive: This phase enabled brokers to make policy changes in an automated manner, further freeing-up the York underwriting team to focus on underwriting exceptions, and challenges, not administrative work. The existing iter8 suite was used to complete this phase, as requirements focused on system set up and training.

Property: Property lines were completed after automotive was in place. This replicated the automotive actions, with a further addition – a true real-time, round-trip transaction, starting and ending in the broker’s TAM system, without a portal landing. It is based on industry standard XML. What used to be a painfully slow scripting transaction taking well over one minute was reduced over 500%.

Project Benefits

I. From a Broker Perspective

  • The process is understandable, automated and predictable
  • York provides the control of the service level to policyholders with the brokers
  • The process is very easy to use in sales and service
  • York has provided brokers with the same power of a direct writer to quote, bind, underwrite, and rate at the point of sale.
  • Brokers share stories, and activity at York has resulted in industry buzz – York is a company to do business with. Brokers recognize dealing with York is easy and profitable

Several brokers provided direct feedback:

“The Gateway program is awesome.”
Reg Ward Jr., Principle at Reg Ward Insurance Services Ltd.

“… we are going to write a lot of business because of the ease of processing.”
Ben Van Dyk, Principle, Van Dyk Insurance Brokers Ltd.

“We definitely are interested in expanding our opportunities with York; and I believe Gateway is an excellent platform in obtaining these mutual goals.”
Jeff C. Mitchell, Principle, JC. Mitchell Insurance Group Inc.

II. Overhaul of underwriting practices

Formalize processes; document activities; ensure consistent application of policies; move “assets” of the company into a retrievable form – that does not leave the building every night.

  • Underwriting rules applied at point of sale
  • Transaction completion now done in Broker office
  • Over 200 rules automated
  • Flexibility introduced in product management
  • Nimbleness in product introduction
  • Policy processing times became predictable and timing of delivery into the hands of the broker dropped from weeks to 24 hours.
  • A 40% savings in headcount, manifested through avoided new hirings.

III. Automation of Underwriting

  • Real-time connectivity to all broker management systems
  • Workflow modeled, streamlined and efficiencies gained
  • Automation levels exceeded 80% for target lines of business
  • Renewal retention climbed to over 85% – driving revenue in the tens of millions of dollars

IV. Automated retrieval of third party reports

  • Third party reports automated request, retrieval, field data entry and validation
  • Third party reports automated the population of the application and verification improving speed and accuracy
  • Time saved, and accuracy improved

V. Introduction of round trip transactions

At the end of 2007 a twist was introduced to real-time transactions. A real-time inquiry transaction was changed to deliver an account summary page from the York mainframe. Brokers no longer had to navigate the carrier portal to review billing, policy and claims information. That data is now delivered directly into Applied Systems’ TAM with the supporting activity record to register the transaction.

The transaction beginning and ending in the broker management system enabled three key benefits that increased customer satisfaction and employee productivity:

  • Speed. The XML transaction was reduced to 8-10 seconds for delivery, where scripting takes 30+ seconds.
  • No portal landing. For brokers there were no passwords to remember (or write down), no company screens to navigate and no additional key strokes. All actions are completed within a familiar system.
  • Reduced E&O exposure and transaction costs. Agency staff experience consistent workflows.
  • This project has helped transform York into a progressive, market leading innovator that is viewed by others in the industry as a competitive force.

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General information about the Insurance-Canada.ca Tech Awards is available on the ICTA homepage