A new Irving, Texas-based P&C insurer, Homeowners of America Insurance ($5 million in assets), is aiming to leverage Web-based quoting, issuance and processing to make inroads into the residential property market. With many large insurance companies curtailing their homeowners business in Texas, Spencer Tucker, president of Homeowners of America Insurance, says he saw an opportunity to use the Web to provide independent agents with competitive prices. "I didn't see anyone else in the residential property industry that was using technology to the fullest extent to get the most-accurate prices," he explains.
Tucker turned to Warner Robins, Ga.-based Information Distribution Marketing Inc. (IDMI) in February 2006 to help create the Web-based system. IDMI customized its policy administration system -- which enforces underwriting rules and handles policy issuance and billing -- to allow agents to submit applications online. "Homeowners of America had a slightly different view of how they wanted to work with agents in the marketplace," explains Gary Martin, president and CEO of IDMI. "So our biggest challenge during implementation was creating the point of sale interface to fit the company's needs."
The carrier purchased Dell (Round Rock, Texas) servers running Microsoft's (Redmond, Wash.) IIS Web server and Microsoft SQL Server software to support the IDMI application. The servers are hosted at IDMI; Homeowners of America accesses the policy tracking system through its local area network. Both companies use San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco Systems products for network security.
IDMI also set up an Internet-based project management system for the insurer to track progress and submit technical issues. "Communication is an ongoing reality of dealing with an IT department in another state," says Homeowners of America's Tucker. "A system to facilitate communication would be key to our project."
Checks and Balances
IDMI customized its policy admin system to include ISO's (Jersey City, N.J.) Location product, which automatically assigns the protection class code to new policies, and Automobile Property Loss Underwriting product to check whether an applicant has had prior losses. Also, TransUnion (Chester, Pa.) is accessed online for credit scoring. "These are checks and balances that automatically notify the agent and the company of particular risk factors," says IDMI's Martin.
Homeowners of America Insurance went live with the system in May and, according to Tucker, is in the process of integrating more underwriting tools to automate the process of monitoring risk concentration. So far, 120 independent agents are writing policies with the new carrier, he says. "Agents enjoy that it only takes 30 seconds to get a quote using our system," Tucker notes.