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Beacon Selects PCMS Atlas System

Beacon Insurance Group has selected Property & Casualty Management Systems' Atlas policy, claim and billing administration system to support the carrier's strategic transformation from a one-segment, one-state company to a more diverse, regionally oriented carrier.

Witchita Falls, Texas-based Beacon Insurance Group (about $50 million in annual premium) has selected Property & Casualty Management Systems' (PCMS, Dallas) Atlas policy, claim and billing administration system to support the carrier's strategic transformation from a one-segment, one-state company to a more diverse, regionally oriented carrier.

Historically a personal lines-driven company, Beacon sought a system to enhance its commercial lines capabilities in response to changing demographics, regulatory issues and judicial interpretations of coverage, according to Chris Belle, vice president and CIO, Beacon Ins. Group. "It's our long-term strategy to develop a fairly even mix of personal lines and commercial business spread over three or four states," he says.

Beacon began its search in August 2004 and selected PCMS' Atlas from among eight vendor offerings to which the carrier sent RFPs. A rigorous, six-month selection process involving site visits to client references and detailed demonstrations structured by Beacon, the carrier selected Atlas based on both functionality and price.

Among Beacon's requirements for a new system purchase were that it be Web-enabled; that it provide agent access or portal capability; that it support ACORD XML and ISO-based commercial lines with Texas exceptions; and that the carrier has access to source code.

"The Atlas system provides most of the features we require; those that were lacking, such as electronic funds transfer and check payment lockbox processing, will be built for us," Belle says. He describes the system has having been built from the ground up using Visual Basic, .NET and a Microsoft (Redmond, Wash.) SQL server database, constituting a platform architecture that permits rapid development of modifications and new functionality. "This was important to us because in the past we have not been able to respond to opportunities and regulatory changes as fast as we would like, due to system limitations," Belle says.

Belle praises the fully integrated policy, claim and billing admin system for its consistent feel across all its modules. "The design of the user interface provides a much simpler workflow and entry process than our current [RPG-based, AS/400] system," he states. "This will allow us to achieve better cross-training among our processing teams so we can respond to surges in activity where they occur."

While cost was not a top criterion, PCMS' offering dominated, standing at nearly half the expense of its competitors on a five-year cost projection. "Also, [PCMS'] approach to pricing and services does not 'nickel-and-dime' you," Belle remarks. "We don't have to pay every time we pick up the phone to ask a question -- and this won't change after we go live; it's spelled out on the contract."

Beacon plans to go live with the system in the fourth quarter of this year. While Belle would not disclose dollar figures, he says that license, development and maintenance costs for the Atlas system will account for about 25 percent of the carrier's IT budget over the next three years, and about 10 percent afterwards. Beacon expects a return on its investment in Atlas as early as one year from implementation.

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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