As a rule, choosing a new vendor for a policy administration system can be a bit of a gamble, but Rockford Mutual's choice of Sheboygan, Wis.-based Horizon Systems & Services All-Points browser-based solution was a safe bet, in the view of Gary KasaKaitas, the carrier's director of IS. The carrier plans to implement the solution for its BOP line as part of an effort to extend its now unsupported Strategic Data Systems (SDS) core legacy policy admin system.
When Rockford (Rockford, Ill.; $50 million in total premium income) first looked at Horizon's product nearly a year ago, the firm had only one reference, and its All-Points solution was more expensive than the three other offerings in the final four the carrier considered. However, the carrier evaluated the cost of implementation over five years and found Horizon more economical. "They priced lower partly because they're selling a perpetual license, where most of the other vendors are charging an annual use fee," KasaKaitas relates. Horizon is also selling Rockford the solution's source code, which serves as "insurance" against the event of the vendor failing. Adds KasaKaitas: "Even if they go away, I can hire my own programmers to continue on with it if I have to."
Another advantage of Horizon over its competitors was the vendor's carrier-based experience. "Almost every one of the vendors we talked to comes from an agency management or comparative rater background," KasaKaitas says. When All-Point was built, he adds, "carrier concerns were taken into consideration in the design."
KasaKaitas also cites confidence in the Horizon team -- which comprises members of the SDS team prior to that vendor's having been acquired and subsequently vanishing -- as being another important factor in the All-Points decision. Most importantly, KasaKaitas says, "[All-Points] demos very well, it looks good, it's a functionality-rich product, and it hits a lot of the things a carrier wants."
KasaKaitas says that Rockford Mutual is investing about $200,000 in the solution, which the carrier plans to roll out in beta version in October. Implementation began in May, following a prior legacy extension move via the implementation of a NetRate system for the carrier's personal auto line. If the Horizon product works out well, KasaKaitas says he may consider using it for commercial auto. He wouldn't rule out a long-term replacement strategy based on the product. However, KasaKaitas emphasizes, "Our immediate plan is to get a Web-based front end out to provide hands-on tools to our agents."
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