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Back to the Future

Mike McGavick stresses technology and looks to Safeco's past to plot its future.

Planning with technology in mind has led Safeco to focus on three core areas of opportunity, according to McGavick. First is the use of relational databases to segment, select and price risk. "Companies with more robust databases and uses of data are able to select and price risk much more effectively, which creates a competitive advantage," he says.

Second, the capture of data characteristic of analytical technologies fosters the creation of common databases. "In the past we built distinct platforms around business lines, but today we're finding we can bring all that together and create common databases and common transactional platforms," McGavick observes. Finally, he adds, "Because of the way technology enables very low-cost communication with our customers and partners, we can significantly lower the disparity in cost between direct and captive selling and our independent agents' selling methodologies."

In short, McGavick says, "Technology is changing the way we think about what lines of business to be in, how we think about building out platforms and how we think about connectivity to customers and distributors."

That thinking is exemplified by the April 2004 launch of Safeco Now, an agent Web site that includes a single-platform sales tool that enables distributors to quickly quote and bind personal auto, homeowners, business owner's policy, fleet and non-fleet commercial auto, workers' comp, business umbrella and surety lines.

The site allows pricing precision because, "While each of the policies is being processed, we're connecting with independent data sites acquiring additional data to underwrite the risk and verifying the data being provided," McGavick says. "It lessens the amount of data that has to be entered by the agents, it lessens the time required to place the business, and we can bind and issue in real time," he asserts.

Mike McGavick, CEO, Safeco

TECHNOLOGY PHILOSOPHY: "Decisions must be made in partnership with technology. Making decisions and then telling technology to fulfill them leads to poor business decision-making."

LAST BOOK READ: A Short History of Nearly Everything, by Bill Bryson.

HOBBIES/PASTIMES: McGavick has played rugby for most of his life.

BACKGROUND: Mike McGavick ran a successful comeback campaign for former U.S. Senator and 9/11 Commission member Slade Gorton, R-Wash., and served as Gorton's chief of staff.

Anthony O'Donnell has covered technology in the insurance industry since 2000, when he joined the editorial staff of Insurance & Technology. As an editor and reporter for I&T and the InformationWeek Financial Services of TechWeb he has written on all areas of information ... View Full Bio

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