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United Concordia Launches New Online Support Tool For Producers

Dental insurer United Concordia looks to meet growing demand for producer-facing Web tools with ConcordiaConnect.

In the first step of a major, multiphased e-commerce initiative, United Concordia ($1.3 billion in revenue) launched ConcordiaConnect, a new online support tool for brokers and consultants. The tool is designed to improve access to information for the Harrisburg, Pa.-based national dental insurer's independent producers while making it easier for them to do business with the carrier, according to Kurtis Shook, United Concordia's director of marketing communications.

The new online capabilities will provide the national dental insurer's producer community with the ability to instantly issue standard proposals and rates, request quotes for experience-rated groups, and view and export detailed commission payment reports in a 24/7 environment, Shook relates. "We increasingly get requests for proposals (RFPs) from consultants and brokers, and they are always asking about our Web technologies," he says. "We really found that it was important -- to keep us competitive and to keep us tech-savvy in the eyes of the purchasers -- to really enhance the service delivery that we felt the marketplace was demanding."

In this initial phase of the initiative, the online ConcordiaConnect tool is integrated primarily with the dental carrier's producer commission system, according to Shook. That system houses all of United Concordia's commission data, as well as agreement and demographic information for the broker, he explains.

"Through this new mechanism, [producers] actually have the ability to get to that information online and export that information to their own systems for further analysis," Shook relates. "Historically speaking, they would only have a paper receipt that was sent by United Concordia on a monthly basis."

Shook suggests that the tool actually can help brokers and consultants improve their productivity. He exlpains that the tool also leverages E-Appointment, an internally developed application that enables producers to check their appointment status in a given geographic area and request changes to that status.

To ensure information security, according to Shook, producers will access ConcordiaConnect through a "dedicated portal" built on an IBM (Armonk, N.Y.) WebSphere platform that leverages Bedford, Mass.-based RSA's SecurID authentication technology.

Efficiency Bonus

While improved ease-of-use and access for producers were the driving forces behind the new system, Shook expects that ConcordiaConnect also will help improve the carrier's efficiency. Previously, the company had different rate-generation processes depending on a broker's geographic location -- with parts of the country submitting requests via an unnamed vendor tool and others using spreadsheets, he explains. A rating disk built on Microsoft (Redmond, Wash.) Access would then allow the carrier's sales reps to generate quotes, one product and one plan at a time. "It worked, but it wasn't very efficient, and it was fragmented across our various sales regions," Shook says of the process.

Under the ConcordiaConnect project, the carrier will manage those quote requests under a new, common system built on a highly-customized version of Connecture's (Waukesha, Wis.) Java-based InsureConnect platform, according to Shook. Internal sales reps and account managers have been on the system since September, and underwriting personnel already use the platform for posting rates of manually rated cases, he notes.

United Concordia is introducing the new system to its approximately 13,000 producers through a direct mailing that provides brokers with instructions on how to register for ConcordiaConnect, as well as a demonstration CD and helpful-hint documents. Beginning on the East Coast and moving across the country, the rollout was broken down into geographic mailings, the last of which was scheduled for late February.

Future phases of United Concordia's e-commerce initiative will enhance ConcordiaConnect with more producer-facing tools, Shook adds. "We are planning to expand our e-enrollment capabilities. That will enable the group administrators [or authorized producers] to make additions and changes to member rosters on behalf of their clients," he explains. "In the future, that will be integrated with a soon-to-be-released e-bill platform, which will enable presentment and payment of a group's dental invoice online."

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