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Slow and Steady

Professional liability underwriter CAMICO Mutual Insurance has adopted a controlled five-year growth strategy.

As the largest CPA-owned mutual insurance company in the U.S., CAMICO Mutual Insurance Co. (more than $100 million in total assets), a provider of risk management services and an underwriter of professional liability and related employment-practices liability insurance, is in a unique position when it comes to servicing its specialized customer base. But the once-regional underwriter - which was spun off from its sibling CPA Society of California in 1994 - had to find new ways to reach policyholders nationally as it embarked upon a five-year expansion plan in 2003.

Part of the Redwood City, Calif.-based insurer's value-add strategy involves leveraging its extranet as a repository of risk management tools to help policyholders mitigate their professional liability risk exposure while gaining continuing professional education credits. "CAMICO has teamed with third parties to offer Web-based tools that help members learn while they earn credits to maintain their licenses," relates Scott Webber, director of information technology, CAMICO Mutual. "This allows CAMICO to service our CPAs on a national basis, which is helpful because it's tough for us to touch them in the same way that we could when we were a West Coast regional company."

A major part of the carrier's growth is due to its acquisition of DPIC Companies' (Monterey, Calif.; now part of Royal & SunAlliance Insurance Group) professional liability book of business in 2000. Prior to the takeover, CAMICO was a direct-only distributor. But post-acquisition, the underwriter was forced to contend with challenges associated with its new dual distribution strategy.

CAMICO's response was an 18-month migration of its legacy systems. Webber explains that the project consisted of the transformation of its one claims and two policy management systems into a combined package solution. "As of 2001, our business model had grown beyond the ability of our existing two-policy management systems, and we decided to replace them head to toe," he relates.

Soon after, CAMICO awarded an 18-month contract to Infinity Systems Consulting (Dallas) in October 2001 for the system replacement. Aside from consulting services, Infinity provides customized systems solutions. After awarding the contract, the carrier began developing a data conversion program and forms and reports that could be used with the soon-to-be enhanced system.

In July 2003, Camico went live with the system, which automates policy administration, billing, loss prevention, claims administration and some CPE event planning. It is integrated with CAMICO's general ledger system.

"In 18 months we successfully completed the conversion of 15 years' worth of claims and loss prevention data and five years' worth of policy history," Webber says. "The solution supports our 44-state CPA professional liability operation. And this success was achieved at a time in which our business increased by 37 percent [over two years]. We expect that this new system will be one of the keys to our continued success."

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