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Billing System Drives Cross-Sell Efforts

PrimeWire application consolidates and automates group insurance billing for Conseco.

After almost 20 years of growth through acquisition, Conseco's internal billing systems were standing in the way of sales increases-particularly in the Carmel, IN-based carrier's group insurance business, which includes group life, dental and long-term care insurance-a part of the business that has continued to flourish amid the carrier's ongoing restructuring efforts.

"We had a manual system in place to combine group billing onto a single bill," says Randy Inman, assistant vice president, project management. Furthermore, he adds, billing numbers for customers were taken from administration systems and manually entered into a Microsoft Access database. "We did this monthly. There were two or three people and all they did was produce bills." Not only was it hard to produce a single bill that included products from many different administration systems, it was also difficult to split the customer's single payment among different products, he explains.

Because of administrative shortcomings, Inman says, business managers could not expand the group insurance business. Also, Conseco's agents resisted cross-selling insurance products because of pushback from customers stemming from Conseco's inefficient and complex billing process. "Our sales force was pushing us to come up with a better billing system," Inman says.

Issuing an RFP in April 2001, Conseco required a Web-based solution capable of auto-reconciliation with back-office systems, with automatic interface with administrative systems, and that could provide customers with the ability to edit bills electronically and accept electronic payments and credits. "Only one company, PrimeWire, showed us they had all of the functionality that we needed," in an ASP model, Inman related.

.NET Pioneer

PrimeWire, a Marietta, GA-based provider of Web-based network solutions for employee benefits administration, helped Conseco develop a phased-in plan for enhancing its billing processes based off the Microsoft (Redmond, WA) .NET Beta 2 version of the code, according to Marcus Johnston, PrimeWire's product manager for the Conseco billing engine project. "A large part of the success of the project was moving the code to a .NET platform, and we were able to speed up development," Johnston says.

The first phase, completed in November 2001, focused on getting information from the administration systems to "feed PrimeWire to get a single common bill," Inman says. The second phase aimed to improve the user interface for customers (benefit administrators) and for Conseco customer service representatives. Phase two was completed in February 2003. The final phase, underway now, involves auto-reconciliation features for the back office, as well as ACH (automated clearing house) and EFT (electronic funds transfer) payments, Inman adds.

The most complex part of the development was accessing data from the multiple administrative systems, Inman says. "We struggled with bringing the many admin systems together, since each system treated data somewhat differently," he says.

Overall, Inman says, the PrimeWire solution has helped Conseco meet its goals of expanding the business. "I couldn't tell you if PrimeWire is saving us any money at this point," he notes, adding that Conseco will be conducting a reverse cost/benefit analysis later this year. "Cost savings will be nice, but they aren't the key. We want to grow the business. Without PrimeWire, our revenue growth would not be moving up like it is today." Since the rollout of the PrimeWire application, Conseco has seen a 17 percent growth in supplemental health insurance premiums and a 40 percent growth in annual life premiums.


Case Study Closeup

COMPANY: Conseco, Carmel, IN, 2001 managed assets of $94.6 billion.

LINES OF BUSINESS: Group life, supplemental health, fixed annuities, auto and homeowners' insurance.

VENDOR/TECHNOLOGY: PrimeWire (Marietta, GA); Microsoft (Redmond, WA) .NET

CHALLENGE: Streamline billing to help grow group life business.

Greg MacSweeney is editorial director of InformationWeek Financial Services, whose brands include Wall Street & Technology, Bank Systems & Technology, Advanced Trading, and Insurance & Technology. View Full Bio

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