2010 ICTA Winners: York Fire & Casualty

Practitioner – Insurer category: York Fire & Casualty

York Fire & Casualty was nominated by Bryan Bedford.

Insurer: York Fire & Casualty Insurance Company

York Fire & Casualty Insurance Company 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 four largest in Quebec. From its head office in Mississauga, Ontario, York offers insurance to protect consumers’ homes, cars, power sports equipment and businesses through more than 200 independent brokers in Canada. York 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.

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.

Technology Provider: iter8 Inc.

iter8 Inc. is a Canadian software developer that focuses on the Property and Casualty Insurance sector. 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.

Bryan Bedford, York Fire & Casualty (centre), with Glen Piller, iter8 (left), and Doug Grant, Insurance-Canada.ca (right).

Description of Technology Used

Creation of an endorsement bridge that establishes a true, real-time, once-and-done solution for the York independent broker distribution channel.

The technology was officially rolled out to York’s full TAM Broker segment in December of 2009. It represents the most recent step in York’s vision to deliver superior ease of doing business to the independent broker distribution channel. The strategy adopted by York is to deliver several achievable, measureable, attainable components in a multi-stage process.

This submission focuses on the Endorsement Bridge activities, but also highlights technology changes needed to support this project and York’s all inclusive moves to automated real-time transactions.

In terms of the impact of the technology, cost reductions have been seen from the entire technology transformation (it is too early to measure cost savings exclusively from the endorsement bridge, as it was rolled out just recently). Brokers are responding to York’s tremendous efforts for the past several years to move from a “manually based” underwriting process, to a full technology enabled solution.

York plans to continue with its strategy in 2010 and beyond to deliver superior ease of doing business to independent brokers. New projects and technology innovations are being planned to enhance York’s independent broker offerings.

Prior to the project implementation:
All of the transactions that are now automated were handled manually. The supporting software infrastructure was hand coded VB6 services, with static HTML presentation. The hardware environment was various Windows servers to host the VB applications and HTML sites.

After the Project Implementation:
iter8 introduced a new version of its platform-independent XML transformation service (“the Engine”). This service performed a variety of functions:

  • Business Rule evaluation – rules stored as XML structures and evaluated in the Engine.
  • iter8’s Logical and Physical Data modeling of IT systems is done in XML. This allows transforms to be generated for data translation and format translation for communications. This physical-logical-physical mapping is the iter8 Advanced XML Modeling (AXM) method which supports all iter8 products.
  • York’s artifacts are used to generate XML models and mappings of various kinds. These models and mappings can then be re-generated when York’s artifacts change.
  • This permits XPath expressions to be translated into SQL statements against databases.
  • Translators for Broker Connectivity and Reports Retrieval are based on mappings from standards-based XML data models.
  • Implementation of XML-over-HTTP web services.
  • Modeling of underwriting process and workflow in XML structures.

The software landscape still includes the legacy VB application, but sales and service transaction can now be fully automated though the web front end. To enable this functionality the following software was installed:

  • iter8 BPMP
  • ASPX and Javascript
  • Fortus (.Net application) Rating engine

To accommodate the iter8 application on the York LAN the Web server was upgraded (to include failover) and a new application server was purchased and deployed.

The major shift in technology was from point to point, tightly coupled interfaces, to service oriented architecture (SOA). Specifically the following insurance processes now exposed as web services:

  • Get Policy
  • Post Policy
  • Underwrite Policy
  • Rate Policy
  • Upload Policy (from external Broker Management System)


York has a vision to deliver superior “ease of doing business” to the independent broker distribution channel.

Such a vision required York to undertake a major technological change that began several years ago, and was broken into several achievable, measureable, attainable components. York needed to radically change business practices and processes, moving from older manual actions into new automated, real-time transactions.

The Endorsement Bridge transaction for Applied System TAM users via the WARP technology is the most recent implementation on York’s journey to a true real-time, once-and-done solution for the independent broker distribution channel. Although the technology solution has been in the production environment for the better part of a year (March 2009), it was only officially rolled out to York’s full TAM Broker segment in December of 2009.

As with earlier phases of the technology roll-out, York experienced very little requirement for additional training as users that were already familiar with existing functionality were able to adapt and adopt the new transactions very easily.

Impact of Technology

Using Applied Systems’ WARP technology for real-time transactions, York now communicates directly and immediately with insurance brokers through their broker management system (BMS). The new endorsement bridge improves on processes that relied on time-consuming standard scripting services and carrier portal log-ins.

York Brokers utilizing Applied System’s Agency Manager system now have the ability to launch an endorsement transaction directly from their own BMS with the click of a button. The endorsement bridge will land the broker in the York portal with the client’s policy open and ready to be endorsed, eliminating the need for the Broker to login and navigate the carrier web site.

York is building on the recent success of their award winning real-time inquiry transactions in response to increasing requests for real-time technology solutions from the independent broker channel. As the industry comes together to discuss real-time initiatives through working groups like ORBiT (Ontario Real-Time Brokers implementing Technology), York is excited to be both a participant and trailblazer for these workflow solutions.

The real-time interface allows producers and CSR’s to communicate directly and immediately with York. It provides a single, efficient workflow for servicing or quoting. One click from the client file in the broker management system takes you immediately to information on that client. For tracking and E&O risk control, the BMS generates activity messages and attaches them at the customer, policy or claim level and optionally assigns them to CSR’s or producers.

Feedback from Clients

“The York Connection program is awesome and something that everyone involved with should hold great pride in. You have made this totally user friendly, simple to access and work your way through. I have worked with many industry programs over the years and this one has impressed me like no other program that I have used. You are setting a high standard for the rest of our industry to try matching.”
Reg Ward Jr. – Reg Ward Insurance

“Without this solution, these transactions are extremely time-consuming and can take up a significant amount of brokers’ time. These simple transactions will improve broker efficiencies and allow us to spend more time focusing on advising our clients.”
Jeff Roy – Founding Member of Excalibur Insurance Group

“The CSR in our office that uses ‘the York Connection’ and ‘WARP’ says it’s very easy entry, user friendly and she very rarely has a problem where she has to call York Fire. Before using WARP of course, the CSR would enter the entire auto application. Now the data is transferred through WARP which eliminates most double entry which is wonderful! We are looking forward to being able to do additional transactions through WARP!”
Robin Monson – Personal Lines Manager – Morison Insurance

“We find the York Connection system very user friendly. The ability to ‘WARP’ new business directly from our TAM system provides us with a quick and accurate method to submit new business to York. All of these features provide valuable time savings for us and our clients can receive their policy very shortly after submission.”
Wendy Humphreys, CIP, RIP – Unison Insurance Brokers

i) Reductions to Cost of Doing Business

The new business and endorsements that currently present York the greatest challenge in time and effort are those that are incomplete, illegible, ineligible and inaccurate. It was York’s desire to eliminate these items, significantly reducing the cost of doing business.

Cost savings have been achieved, arising predominantly from:

  • Avoided staffing costs;
  • Increased renewal business;
  • Automation processes of 80% or higher, freeing up time to focus on building relationships, exception underwriting and closing complex deals, ultimately leading to more productivity.

ii) Revamp and Rework of underwriting practices

Formalized processes; documented activities; ensured consistent application of underwriting policies; moved “assets” of the company into a retrievable form – one 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 (per line of business);
  • Policy processing times became predictable and timing of delivery into the hands of the broker dropped from weeks to hours, and in some cases, real-time.

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

  • Speed and transaction cycle time. Brokers can manage the service delivery standards to ‘their’ customers.
  • No portal landing. For brokers there are 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.

York Fire and Casualty wins Applied Systems interface partner award

(Press release from Applied re: 2009 Interface Partner Award)

Kansas City, Mo.–Oct. 15, 2009– York Fire & Casualty Insurance Company today received the 2009 Interface Partner Award from insurance technology company Applied Systems. The award recognizes York Fire & Casualty’s achievements in brokerage-carrier communication.

Applied Systems acknowledged York Fire & Casualty’s leadership and innovations, citing the carrier’s commitment to providing brokers with download, real-time inquiry and real-time rating.

York Fire & Casualty received the partnership award during a ceremony in Kansas City, Missouri, at 2009 TENCon, the Technology, Education & Networking Conference hosted by ASCnet, the Applied Systems Client Network.

“The continued commitment of York Fire & Casualty and other forward-thinking carriers keeps our industry advancing,” said Doug Johnston, vice president, Partner Relations & Product Innovations at Applied Systems. “We recognize the company’s dedication to interface partnerships with its brokerages, and for overall benefit to the industry.”

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