I&T: What is the state of policy administration systems at Harleysville Insurance (Harleysville, Pa.; $3.7 billion in total assets)?
Tripathi: Harleysville rolled out a new agent portal in early 2006 that provides a comprehensive set of information regarding all agents' accounts, policies and billing information, as well as access to rating, quoting and policy issue systems for commercial lines, personal lines and life business. This portal has significantly improved our agents' electronic access to Harleysville's products and services. In late 2005, we selected new rating, quoting and policy management systems for the commercial and personal lines business that connect with our agent portal. This is a key step toward further improving our rating and quoting process as part of our overall goal of enhancing our ease of doing business for agents.
For our commercial lines platform, we chose a highly adaptable Microsoft (Redmond, Wash.) .NET-based solution from AQS (Hartland, Wis.) that we are rolling out this year and throughout 2008. The commercial lines system, available through our newly branded accessHarleysville portal, provides significant new capabilities -- including the complete reorganization of our product management, rating, quoting and policy issue processes in a real-time mode; an integrated predictive modeling capability for risk assessment; and an underwriting rules engine based on artificial intelligence. This solution will enable agents to enjoy enormous flexibility in doing business with Harleysville, while also improving our underwriting consistency and productivity.
Similarly, we are rolling out a new personal lines policy administration system this year and throughout 2008. This initiative, begun in mid-2006, employs Duck Creek Technologies' (Bolivar, Mo.) policy administration system and is also based on Microsoft .NET technologies -- leveraging Web services in an SOA framework to enable real-time rating and quoting for all personal lines business. This new system, also branded under the accessHarleysville name, allows agents to rate, quote and issue new policies, and to complete endorsements.
Both systems enable electronic delivery of policy documents and forms to agents and policyholders via our agent portal, which guides an agent (or customer service representative) to the appropriate policy administration system. These new policy systems are being rolled out geographically, by region and state.
I&T: How do you and your team make sense of the changing policy admin solutions landscape and overcome the hype about "next-gen" systems? What are the appropriate success metrics?
Tripathi: Our first priority is to determine how our product and systems strategies can best support our overall corporate strategy to make Harleysville a company that's easy for our customers to do business with, while also achieving internal efficiencies -- greater flexibility in product changes, reduced cycle time and significant productivity improvements. Currently, we are leveraging advances in technology (such as SOA), Web-based capabilities, and integration with new technology products and services (including Web 2.0 technologies) to make this all happen.
As we roll out our new policy administration systems, we have established very specific expectations that were defined in our strategic business case analysis. We are tracking our results against those expectations and against the investments we've made, but we cannot measure the full impact of those initiatives until both systems are completely rolled out. Nevertheless, our key agents have already previewed the systems, and their feedback has been extremely positive.
I&T: How does Harleysville ensure IT/business alignment when making technology decisions, such as purchasing the new policy admin systems?
Tripathi: We have established a systems governance council comprised of key Harleysville executives, including the CFO, chief underwriting officer, chief actuary, chief claims officer, head of HR, head of field operations and specific business line leaders. The CIO is the adviser to this council. The financial and business implications of these initiatives were thoroughly reviewed and approved by the council and, subsequently, by the CEO and the board.
Approval for these major initiatives at the highest level of management ensures commitment to their ongoing support and oversight. A steering committee for each of these projects meets regularly to review progress and provide any necessary guidance.
Katherine Burger is Editorial Director of Bank Systems & Technology and Insurance & Technology, members of UBM TechWeb's InformationWeek Financial Services. She assumed leadership of Bank Systems & Technology in 2003 and of Insurance & Technology in 1991. In addition to ... View Full Bio