Insurance & Technology is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.


05:04 PM
Connect Directly

Building an Identity

Gabor Insurance relies on automation to sustain its competitive advantage - knowing when to build systems in-house.

As a company with only 25 full-time employees, Miami-based managing general agent Gabor Insurance - which covers high-value property and casualty lines and works with a limited independent agent base (just 125 active agents) - depends on specialization and high-quality service to stand out in a crowded industry. "We have a name for being one of the top companies providing large habitational risk insurance for apartments and condos, and this sometimes means dealing with very messy policies with a lot of specialized conditions," explains Gabor vice president Reid Bohning.

To sustain its value proposition, Bohning relates, Gabor (more than $40 million in annual premium) relies on automation. "We try to keep the workforce down and reach workable goals through heavy automation and helping employees be more effective," he says. In keeping with the IT strategy, the company migrated to a paperless environment a little more than a year ago.

Imaging "is perfect for any company that has to drag employee productivity up," says Bohning, who outfitted all of Gabor's employees with two computer monitors - one dedicated to viewing imaged documents and the other for daily work. Although his four-man IT shop considered building the system, Bohning says he decided to engage ImageRight (Conyers, Ga.) because the vendor's expertise provided more competitive advantage than a custom-built system could offer. "This system completely changes the way our company works internally," he relates. "Files are available 100 percent of the time through direct lines to the extent that it gives us a significant competitive advantage."

According to Bohning, imaging has doubled productivity - which has translated into better service. "What we do, we do exceptionally well, and the speed and accuracy provided by being completely paperless has given us some leverage to stay at such a high level of quality," says Bohning.

Proprietary Excellence

But more important than speed is producing the accurate, customized, niche policies on which Gabor has built its business. To enhance the company's specialization, Bohning relates, Gabor's IT team developed all of the carrier's policy issue rating and writing systems, as well as its internal Web-based systems, on Microsoft (Redmond, Wash.) Windows XP running on SQL servers. "We do have some of our technology in-house because we remain a company that" does business differently, he explains.

Bohning asserts that the custom systems both provide for more-accurate policy decisions and enhance Gabor's image with independent agents. "Normally, when issuing a policy, an insurance company will look at a rate chart. But, when we deal with $10 million homes, a lot of things don't quite fit, and you have to make accommodations for all of this varied rating criteria," he explains. So Gabor builds its exceptions and accommodations into its proprietary policy writing systems.

Bohning, however, is not concerned about keeping the back office particularly singular, and he prefers to focus Gabor's limited resources in other areas. Rather than build back-office systems, the company uses Denver-based Sirius Financial Systems' back-office product. Again, the decision to buy rather than build largely was based on the provider's expertise. Sirius acquired managing general agent software specialist Insurance Business Solutions in 1999. "Sirius Financial System's experience doing things from the MGA side" has made much of the back-office processing transparent, explains Bohning.

Eye of the Hurricane

Despite its less-visible stature, Gabor's back office infrastructure must be rock solid in a state that is notably threatened by hurricanes. So the company opened a second office about 160 miles north of Miami, in Sebastian, Fla. "We decided last summer to open up an office up the coast in Sebastian, with the main intent of having a place for customers to find us if a hurricane were to take out large areas in the southern part of the state," Bohning explains.

Gabor purchased the WANSyncHA (High Availability) data recovery/data replication software suite from XOsoft (Waltham, Mass.) and installed it on duplicate Microsoft SQL servers in both the Miami and the Sebastian facilities. The suite is a wide-area network (WAN)-based BCP platform that uses a fiber line between the two facilities to mirror every key stroke, enabling Gabor to have a functional hot site up and running at all times.

Additionally, Gabor's server-based information is available over a secure Internet site for employees. "With the fiber line duplicating daily transactions and the Internet site available, we can keep our regular business processes running seamlessly no matter what," Bohning boasts. "The main thing is that our infrastructure is available for our employees and customers even if a Category 5 hurricane is running up the coast."


Carrier Report

Company Profile

Company: Gabor Insurance (Miami; more than $40 million in annual premium).

Lines of Business: Primarily high-value P&C lines such as condominiums and personal estates.

History: Gabor Insurance has been in business for more than 50 years and recently expanded to a second office in Sebastian, Fla.

Recent Initiatives: Gabor recently implemented imaging technology from ImageRight (Conyers, Ga.) and deployed the WANSyncHA data recovery/data replication software suite from XOsoft (Waltham, Mass.) on servers in its Miami and Sebastian, Fla., locations.

Executive Profile

Name: Reid Bohning, Vice President

Career Path: Bohning began his career in 1963 with Kansas City, Mo.-based General American Life Insurance in the actuarial department. More recently, he ran Atlanta-based Professional Computer Services and worked in software development for PC companies, including IBM, before joining Gabor Insurance in 1993.

IT Philosophy: "We will try anything once, as long as it can help us do our job better, and if it will pay for itself," says Bohning. Gabor employs about 25 people, including four IT staffers.

Register for Insurance & Technology Newsletters