As the company's first major technology implementation shows, start-up insurer PURE, or Privilege Underwriters Reciprocal Exchange, is looking to streamline its IT-related responsibilities by leveraging vendor expertise and taking advantage of its lack of legacy systems and data. "Having no technology history can be a blessing and a curse," says Craig Weber, an analyst with Celent (Boston). "The curse is you have to build everything you need, and that's quite a project. The blessing is you can start with a clean slate, which positions you better for building the business in a way that makes sense."
PURE (Plantation, Fla.), a personal lines insurer specializing in high-net-worth clients, recently implemented OneShield's (Westborough, Mass.) Dragon policy administration platform for products including high-value homeowners, private fleet auto, jewelry, art and personal excess liability insurance. Dragon also will serve as PURE's workflow engine and will be used for underwriting and channel management, relates Mark Hill, SVP of technology and process at PURE.
Choosing a Solution
"We wanted a modern technology that was going to give us a Web-based, paperless environment that was relatively easy to deploy," says Hill, who adds that end-to-end policy administration capabilities and access to granular data were also requirements. Implementation began in late June 2006, he notes, and the solution was in production by early February.
While the company also desired a flexible and robust tool set -- necessary to configure more-sophisticated products and workflows going forward -- the key differentiator that set Dragon apart, Hill relates, was OneShield's ability to provide hosting for Dragon and other core applications. PURE is "a svelte company that is more focused on the intellectual property of doing what it does well," he says.
To that end, Hill continues, PURE's strategy is to leverage the capabilities of its partners for IT and the capabilities of its staff for product development. "It's our goal to keep focused on adding strategic organization and not simply on building an IT shop," he explains.
Celent's Weber says that many start-ups are likely to use hosted solutions out of necessity because they lack the requisite infrastructure. "That is a fortuitous accident for most of them because they don't get bogged down building IT infrastructure," he notes, adding, "Quality infrastructure is really important, but at the end of the day customers and agents probably won't notice if it's within your four walls or managed by someone else."
Focusing on product and service strategies rather than maintaining an IT infrastructure could make sense for more-established insurers as well, but old habits die hard, Weber notes. "The start-up has an advantage -- they're not encumbered by tradition," he says.