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3 Areas of Focus for Growth-Minded Insurers

Builders Mutual's CIO Graeme Boddy, a 2012 Elite 8 honoree, reveals steps his IT organization is taking to help his company grow from a small carrier to a bigger regional player.

In order to thrive today, insurers need to focus on growth. With M&A activity down from previous years, carriers are focused on growing organically, with efforts that include expanding geographical reach, expanding the number of customers or adding new offerings to their product line. So what measures can insurers take that will facilitate growth?

Graeme Boddy, CIO of Raleigh, N.C.-based Builders Mutual and a 2012 Elite 8 honoree, continues to help his firm grow from a small regional carrier to a bigger player in the southeast. According to Boddy, there are three areas in which he's focusing to drive that growth -- and it's paying off for his organization.

[In the past year, Graeme Boddy has implemented new e-commerce capabilities and a new business front end: 2012 Elite 8: Where Are They Now?]

Concentrate on customer experience. "We understand that as we move from a smallish player to a burgeoning middle-size player, we have got to come to grips with our customer experience," Boddy notes. "For the past year, we've been trying to change our attitude from the idea that the customers are policyholders to they are truly customers."

Among the efforts Boddy's team has taken include changing the look of the carrier's bills to offering e-payment capabilities and providing electronic or paper-free capabilities for not only bills but for everything else. Boddy also has helped create a customer contact center. "We provide high-quality personal service," he says. "We don't have any IVR so if you ring us up you'll get a real human being each and every time."

Apply analytics. Boddy's team also is implementing various analytics for different uses, including using predictive analytics to better identify risk profiles.

"Having been in business and very much a niche player in the building industry, we have got a great depth of data," he explains. "Rather than having a lot of IT people pull information almost randomly and hope something happens, we're hiring smart, business-savvy folks with data experience. They're helping to identify opportunities both in terms of how to expand our revenue and also to identify ways we can use, for example, our risk management to better identify risks and with that, either be able to come off of the risk or have some sort of autonomic rating where, based on the risk profile, we can change the rate without any human intervention."

Minimize human intervention. In order to cut human intervention, Boddy's team is creating an express account unit. The group is tuning Builders Mutual systems and processes, aiming to get to once-and-done and working to give people the ability to go into the online system and get all the way through to the acceptance of the risk without having to go through the underwriting process each time, or making the underwriting experience much shorter.

"In our big drive to e-commerce, we've learned the expectation is that if you do something in the electronic world, it's instant, but if you do something in a paper world, you'll wait days. You can't wait days in an e-commerce experience because people don't expect and won't work in that method anymore," Boddy says.

Peggy Bresnick Kendler has been a writer for 30 years. She has worked as an editor, publicist and school district technology coordinator. During the past decade, Bresnick Kendler has worked for UBM TechWeb on special financialservices technology-centered ... View Full Bio

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