Underwriting has traditionally been seen as a practiced art rather than a discrete body of information capable of being recorded. But as the practitioners of that art move on, companies can lose the value of the lessons underwriters have learned over their careers.
Chubb Group's (Warren, NJ, $30.4 billion in assets) senior management understood that value and set in motion a project for a prototype application that could catalogue underwriting experience through an interactive application accessible over the company intranet, according to Rick Cantor, knowledge management unit leader, Chubb. Between retirement and staff migration, "experiences and insights were basically just walking out the door," Cantor says.
Focus Group Input
In January 2001 an RFP was issued for a consultant partner, and by March Chubb had selected Basking Ridge, NJ-based AT&T Solutions to oversee the project. "In May we pulled together a focus group of field and home office personnel," Cantor recalls. "From that session, requirements were sent out to several vendors specializing in Internet search and content management."
The RFP process resulted in Lehi, UT-based NextPage's NXT3 product being chosen to power what was to be called Chubb's "Lessons Learned" application. NextPage "bubbled to the top because they were not only competitive, but also impressed everybody as understanding what was needed, and having the technology to do it," says Frank Niepold, senior project manager.
Among the NXT3 features that drove Chubb's decision were a "good search engine, basic content management and open, standards-based architecture," Niepold says.
NextPage signed on in June and began work on requirements and GUI design provided by AT&T Solutions. NXT3 operates as a stand-alone product running on a single Windows NT server, with an Oracle database.
A prototype was delivered by the end of the summer. Niepold says the technology implementation was "technically as good an implementation as I ever ran into." But technology was the easy part in more ways than one, according to Cantor. "This is the kind of system that, when finished, is an empty shell. What makes the application live is the organization and entry of valuable input," Cantor explains. "The application has a number of levels of authorization," including access rights as author, editor or administrator. "We gave authorship to a number of individuals so they were able to share experiences they'd had, as well as new products that they were in the process of launching."
Following a successful demonstration of the prototype populated with sample information in September, a pilot was run by Chubb's department of financial institutions (DFI), which markets specialty insurance to that industry vertical. The pilot ran from early January 2002 to the beginning of May, during which DFI's "authors" began to populate lessons for use.
Underwriters appreciate the application's capacity to ease research and facilitate sharing of best practices, Cantor says. The overall worth of Lessons Learned will always be hard to assess because, he explains, that would require being able to calculate the worth of "an account that you decided not to write that suffered a loss afterwards."
Chubb's knowledge management team is now leveraging DFI's experience with the Lessons Learned to foster the application's use throughout the company. (Editor's Note: For more on Chubb's business intelligence strategy, see related article on pg. 41.) "Our strategy has been to bring to the attention of other business units' senior management teams the value that this kind of knowledge-sharing application can deliver," Cantor says.
Case Study Closeup
Chubb Group (Warren, NJ, $30.4 billion in assets).
LINES OF BUSINESS:
Personal and commercial lines property and casualty.
NextPage (Lehi, UT) NXT3, AT&T Solutions (Basking Ridge, NJ) professional services.
Build an intranet-based repository of underwriting expertise.
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