Seeking to support anticipated growth with both greater efficiency and higher levels of service, Washington, D.C.- based Union Labor Life Insurance Co., a subsidiary of ULLICO (Washington, D.C.; $272 million in 2007 revenue) has selected Hartford-based SEG's rules-based policy administration system to support several of the carrier's lines of business, including medical stop loss, group life, and group disability insurance.
Scheduled to go live with Union Labor Life's first lines of business in early July, the SEG system will replace a 20-plus-year-old system that the carrier had deemed insufficient to effectively support its growth strategy, according to Chris Tosney, Union Labor Life's vice president of Group Operations. "The world has changed, and we want to get closer to our customers by allowing more service and entry to different transactions via the Internet," he comments. "We're in a position to grow our business but we need the infrastructure both from a technology and process standpoint to change the way we do business. This system gives us options that we did not have before and can better support our growth."
In addition to meeting the carrier's criteria of Web- and rules-based technology, the SEG system stood out from an initial field of 12 competitors, looking strong in both technical capabilities and the quality of partnership with the vendor, according to Tosney. As a result of the rules-based system's capacity for accommodating process redesign, the carrier will be able to put previously outsourced business onto the platform. "We will be in-sourcing previously outsourced functions, such as claims, check generation and an entire product we had outsourced - medical stop loss," Tosney relates. "The cost that we can save with the SEG system makes it attractive for us to bring things back in-house.
Through the use of Web 2.0 technologies such as Adobe Flex, the SEG system allows easy customization of the graphical user interface, both for internal users and group customers. A combination of the system's innate flexibility and the vendor's willingness to effect knowledge transfer met Union Labor Life's requirement of good balance in a vendor relationship. "We didn't want to have to go back to the vendor every time we wanted to do something," Tosney says. "SEG doesn't have any problem with that whatsoever and their technology and scripting language makes us independent in configuring the system on an as needed basis."
Since ULLICO, Inc. has one IT department for its four business units, the ability of the business to implement changes independently will allow faster response to business opportunities and make Union Labor Life less dependent on limited internal IT resources. Gary L. Burke, president of Union Labor Life remarks, "We believe that the selection of SEG's system and the enhancements it brings, will provide us with a competitive advantage in the markets we serve to help us deliver new products faster and more efficiently."
SEG stood out among the three finalists called in to demonstrate their products, in part because of the solution's technology — SEG's product suite is built on J2EE and developed in Java — and in part because of the quality of the vendor team, Tosney says. He observed an SEG implementation at a different carrier he previously worked for and says it went exceedingly smoothly. "They met their deadlines, they were within budget — it was a wonderful experience," he recalls. Of the Union Labor Life/SEG experience Tosney says, "We have a wonderful partnership with SEG, talking through the products, talking about how we want to do business, and so far it's working out really well."
In anticipation of a pilot later this year, Union Labor Life is currently redesigning processes, from sales to claims, to create a future state that offers maximum service to customers, Tosney shares. "We're asking our customers for input, so it's definitely a team effort, from concept to design, development and implementation," he says. "Right now we're getting nothing but positive feedback from our customers."
Tosney declined to say what Union Labor Life is investing in the SEG system but said that the efficiency gains from being able to in-source previously outsourced functions alone will result in a return on investment within two years. "Combined with SEG's speed of implementation and proven capabilities, this became an easy decision for us," he comments.
As important as those efficiency gains will be, the improved capabilities of the SEG system will enable Union Labor Life to offer its customers more self sufficiency, Tosney adds. "Annual group reenrollment will be much simpler for all the users. This new technology will make the annual group reenrollment process much easier for all the users of the system and can improve the timeliness and overall quality of quotes and proposals."
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