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Moving Forward

Oklahoma Farmers Union Mutual selects Fiserv technology to power a transformation in support of growth and greater ease of use.

Oklahoma Farmers Union Mutual Insurance has licensed Fiserv Insurance Solutions' (Brookfield, Wisc.) Policy STAR, Claims Workstation, Advanced Billing and FastTrack BPM products to enable a technology transformation. "We had been trying to make a forward move with the company over the last 15 years to update our systems and had not found a solution that worked for us," explains David Robinson, director of IT, Oklahoma Farmers Union Mutual Insurance (approximately $100 million in direct written premium), which writes homeowners, farm owners, farm property, dwelling and auto lines of business. The carrier currently is rebranding as American Farmers and Ranchers Insurance Group.

Among the criteria that resulted in the selection of Fiserv's Java- and Web-based offerings were ease-of-use for distributors and full Web access to systems for, among other reasons, business continuity, according to Robinson. "We were looking for a degree of simplicity that has been extremely difficult to accomplish with a fully integrated system," he says. "We wanted our agents, as well as home-office staff and insureds, to be able to conveniently access the appropriate parts of the system."

Earlier attempts to achieve the desired level of integration with other vendor solutions were not successful, Robinson acknowledges. "What we were looking for was a fully integrated system whose components talk to each other, so that when it's time to update them you can do it all at once without worrying tremendously about the effects of the upgrade," he relates. Previous best-of-breed approaches resulted in cumbersome change-management issues, Robinson adds. "You end up with six, seven, 10 systems that have dependencies upon each other," he says.

The carrier plans to have all lines of business live on the Fiserv system by the end of 2009. "We should roll out our first line of business on the system -- Idaho auto -- in August 2007," Robinson predicts. To speed delivery, he is motivating his development team with an unusual incentive -- "If they get the system in by July 31, they get to shave my head," he says.

The carrier will invest about $10 million over the three- year implementation, including licensing and professional services, according to Robinson, who says he expects the investment to begin to pay for itself immediately with new business. "We currently do not write auto in Idaho and we have an agency force that is dying to write some of that business," he says. "The systems we're currently using for Idaho property are very cumbersome, and with ease of doing business alone, I think we'll see a nice increase in what they are writing." The Fiserv technology also will provide the infrastructure needed to expand into neighboring states, Robinson adds.

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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