Insurance & Technology is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.


09:43 PM
Kristi Nelson
Kristi Nelson
Connect Directly

Off to a Good Start

Startup carrier EquiTrust gambles and wins with implementation of a new life and annuity policy administration system from Systems Engineering Group.

Preparing to launch a new brand, new products and a new distribution channel, startup EquiTrust Life Insurance Co. (Des Moines) needed an agile agency administration system. The EquiTrust name was acquired by FBL Financial Group (West Des Moines) to grow FBL's business beyond the Farm Bureau network. In 2003, FBL set out to expand nationwide, establishing the EquiTrust brand and selling through independent agents.

With a business plan and an empty building in April 2003, the fledgling company set out to buy hardware, software and systems to run the business. "We truly had nothing," relates Ray Wasilewski, vice president, emerging business and technology, EquiTrust ($2.7 billion in assets). "For everything we needed, we had to decide whether we were going to build, buy or try to reuse the home office system."

When it came to a life and annuity administration system, Wasilewski and his team decided that a new system would address EquiTrust's business needs better than the FBL legacy option. "When we put together the Equitrust business case, it was very apparent right from the beginning that there was going to be a tight relationship between IT and the business," Wasilewski says. "We approached it with the attitude that one wasn't going to succeed without the other."

Topping the list of system criteria most important to business managers was flexibility, followed by functionality, cost and time to implement. EquiTrust wanted launch the system by year-end. With help from Chicago-based IT and business consultancy Information Exchange Corp., Wasilewski and his team reviewed more than 30 solutions.

In October, EquiTrust signed a contract with Systems Engineering Group (SEG; Glastonbury, Conn.) for SEG's new EditSolutions suite. The system went live December 15 - despite the fact that SEG had to build a commission system first that was not part of the solution's original design.

Though Wasilewski recognized the risk with a new product, he was impressed with SEG's knowledge of the insurance and annuity business, and with the system's architecture, which was designed using Java and Microsoft SQL Server. "We had familiarity with that and knew what kind of speed that could move at," he says. Most of all, he was impressed with the product's built-in scripting language that allows EquiTrust to make changes without having to change code. "When we looked at this system, there was enough different about it - in both its technology and its approach to building products - that made us feel it would provide a level of flexibility and agility that the other products couldn't," says Wasilewski

That expectation has been borne out. "Our marketing VP, Tom May, brags about the speed at which we can deliver a new product for him," adds Wasilewski.

Since implementing the system, EquiTrust has experienced rapid growth, with 8,000 policies in force, about 5,000 agent users and volumes that almost tripled initial projections. Still - with only a few bumps in the road - the EditSolutions system has kept up with that growth.

"We did have a little bit of problem a when we started growing way faster than we thought," Wasilewski admits. "It never brought us down; we just got slow for a little while," he says. "I think that speaks to the flexibility of the system."


Case Study Profile


EquiTrust Life Insurance Co. (Des Moines, Iowa; $2.7 billion in assets).

Lines Of Business

Life insurance and annuities.


Systems Engineering Group's (Glastonbury, Conn.) EditSolutions suite.


Implement an insurance administration system with the flexibility to support a fast-growing startup.

Register for Insurance & Technology Newsletters