VP, Underwriting and Field Operations
Capital Insurance Group
For insurers that rely on independent agents, moving to Web-based policy administration systems to enable producers to submit business electronically has become a competitive necessity. One carrier making the transition is Monterey, Calif.-based Capital Insurance Group (CIG; $271 million in written premium). Bob Winn, vice president, underwriting and field operations, for the P&C carrier, spoke recently with I&T Associate Editor Maria Woehr about implementing a new policy administration system for commercial lines and converting the company's personal lines products to a .NET-based, Web-enabled format for agents.
I&T: What are the challenges CIG currently is facing in policy administration, and to what extent do those challenges result from a lack of automation?
Winn: We deal exclusively with 350 independent agents for both personal lines and commercial products. Because we compete directly with other carriers' products, we needed to Web-enable our two policy administration systems to stay in the game.
As recently as just a few years ago, our process for all lines was manual. We received agent applications on paper, and then they were entered into the system and validated by the underwriter. The information then was entered into one of our two processing systems, and then the policy was sent out to the agents. But double entry meant a double chance for errors. It also meant agents had to wait up to 10 days for the policy to be issued. We wanted to do what the agents wanted - to be able to submit new business electronically - so it can be processed faster and they have a record in their system.
I&T: How are you moving to a Web-enabled environment? Are you implementing any new systems?
Winn: We are in the midst of converting both our personal lines policy administration system and our commercial lines system for BOP, business and agriculture over to an electronic format. The majority - about 135,000 policies - are on our proprietary processing system, which is [Microsoft] Windows-based. While the majority of our IT department is working on converting the products into a .NET, Web-enabled format for agents, a smaller portion of our IT department is implementing the new commercial lines system we bought last fall from AQS [Hartland, Wis.]. We took on the two projects at the same time to make the systems look alike. All of our products will have the same look and feel, and the submission and policy processing will be similar. Our agents will have the ability to send all applications to us from their computer workstations. This opens up lots of possibilities for them to be able to serve those policies.
I&T: What are the capabilities of the new system?
Winn: With the new system, agents will send business electronically so they will automatically have a record in their systems. Since we expect the electronic system will cut about 50 percent of processing time and it eliminates double entry, we will be able to process more business without adding additional staff.
I&T: Where are you in terms of integrating the product into your architecture, and have you faced any challenges so far?
Winn: We started development in January. Challenges have been minor. There have been some bumps in creating screen layouts and formats to make sure the screens flow in a way that makes sense to the agent. As far as implementing the product into our architecture, we built a bridge from our proprietary system to the AQS system. We hope to be completed by the end of next year.