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Magna Carta's CIO Reports Remotely on Carrier's Readiness

CIO David Lawless reports that the NYC-headquartered company's Northeast employees are working safely from home, thanks to virtualization, and that Oregon-based claims staff are at the ready.

David Lawless
David Lawless, Magna Carta Companies
The Park Avenue headquarters of Magna Carta Companies is closed today, and the Manhattan-based P&C carrier's CIO is not at his desk. In fact, David Lawless is working as an EMT today, something he's been doing on a volunteer basis for the last three years. While based in Scarsdale, there's a chance Westchester County's EMS resources may be called to harder-hit areas, perhaps Long Island or N.J., Lawless reports. However, his preparations as CIO have made a potentially devastating storm less of a threat to his company in his temporary absence.

Mr. Lawless took some time to report to us about Magna Carta's preparations this morning:

The safety of our employees is of paramount importance to us, therefore our New York City, Boston and Princeton, N.J. offices are closed today. We are preparing for their possible closure on Tuesday as well. Our management team is having regular conference calls to keep updated on the storm and to monitor the company's response.

From a claims handling perspective and for the duration of the storm we will use our property/liability claims staff based in Portland, Oregon. Calls into the company will be answered in Portland, where our claims clerical staff will handle the intake and then our claims examiners will then dispatch field staff from home or dispatch third-party adjusters already in place.

We are well situated from a technology perspective. Our primary data center has enough fuel on hand to run for 15 days before refueling and our secondary site has the data replicated. Mission-critical systems and other components are updated every 15 minutes, and less-used systems like HR are updated hourly.

Since we implemented a virtualized desktop infrastructure (VDI) earlier this year, our staff is able to get their identical computing environment from home, regardless of what type of system they have Windows, Mac — even iPad. So from a processing perspective we won't miss a beat.

With the advent of these technologies geographic spread of resources goes a long way in managing major events.

On separate note, we will have our phone system virtualized before the end of the year, so that users will get their office phone environment wherever they log in. So for the next event we expect our processes to be even more seamless.

For more on Hurricane Sandy, see As Sandy Approaches, Report Questions Whether We'll Know About the Next One

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

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