CGU Canada (US 1.9 billion in assets) had a hard time getting its independent brokerageson whom it chiefly relies for distributionset up for policy management self-service. After convincing about 100 of them to manage policies within CGU's legacy system via frame relay, the carrier not only had to incur the cost of connection with each new user, it also spent four days training them to navigate through the complicated system. Brokers not willing to work this way relied on the more time-consuming process of calling CGU underwriters on the telephone. Both forms of access were inconvenient for brokers, as well as for the CGU employees serving them.
By mid-2000 it was evident to management that the system needed changing. A team of employees representing CGU's business, IT and management information departments began reviewing vendors that could eventually enable Web-based policy management capabilities. The criteria included the ability to support existing and future distribution channels, how well vendor architecture enabled passage of data to different receptacles and communication with broker management systems.
After initial communications with DWL (Toronto)a provider of products for insurance that enable real-time Web-based sales and service transactionsthe team subsequently chose to work with the Toronto-based provider of the Insurance for Property/Casualty system and planned on the rollout of full policy inquiry capability. One fact that played in the DWL's favor is that it has a partnership with IBM, who is CGU's PC hardware provider.
"We gave IBM project management responsibility, so they were managing their own resources, as well as DWL's and CGU's," says Doug Hewitt, head of e-commerce, CGU. Implementation of inquiry capabilities began in December 2000. The first phase, a rollout of the personal lines application in English to 10 brokers, was completed by April 2001. "These 10 brokers already had access to CGU's legacy" via frame relay, says Hewitt. "They were chosen because of their comfort level with CGU's legacy, so they could compare the two." Eight CGU employee-testers representing CGU's claims, underwriting, accounting and management departments accessed the DWL system from March to April.
By June 2001, French-language capabilities were up and running. At this time the application was given a password-change capacity permitting rollout to any Canadian broker. In October a minor upgrade enabling brokers to make notes on policies was added to the application, which brokers access via an extranet.
Looking back on the implementation process, Hewitt notes the only unanticipated step was accommodating changes that users requested after the window of time allotted for such changes had closed. Since the vendor wanted to stay on its schedule for implementation, it opened a narrow window for change requests. "We paid a price, but it was a good price," says Hewitt. CGU employee testers requested "changes that they felt that they could not live without," says Hewittfor example, the ability to make inquiries on flexible rating. "We had to implement changes at that point, in order to deliver a product that they felt comfortable using."
Since CGU Canada went live with the DWL applicationwhich currently enables broker access to policy inquiries and the ability to update notesit has realized many benefits. "It is a considerably user-friendly application that will permit our constituency to have access to all the information that they need from us in a cost-effective manner," says Hewitt.
Following the implementation, CGU Canada has seen a rapid uptake by users, and currently has 200 brokers accessing policy information via the Web. That number is expected to grow when the company completes its plans for brokers and employees to have full policy management capability through the DWL Insurance for Property/Casualty platform next year. The rollout has also made CGU employees' jobs easier. "Certain staff who found the legacy too daunting to learn are suddenly using this," says Hewitt.
CASE STUDY CLOSE UP
CGU Canada, (Toronto, US $811.3 billion in assets).
LINES OF BUSINESS:
DWL (Toronto) Insurance for Property/Casualty.
Find an efficient and cost-effective way for brokers to access information.