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Unisys Helps RSL Automate Billing

RSL's Unisys-delivered managed service remittance processing solution is a first step toward replacing the carrier's last legacy billing system. The vendor plans to market the solution to other carriers.

With the launching of a Unisys managed services solution for payments operations, Reliance Standard Life(RSL; Philadelphia) is on the verge of replacing its last legacy system, as part of a transformation push that began in 1999. Unisys (Bluebell, Pa.) is in the process of consolidating RLS's remittance process and billing into a single operation, starting with the development of a common image archive for paper-based payments, and redesigning both IT and business procedures. The solution automates RSL's front-end remittance process as a first step to replacing its 1970s vintage legacy billing system.

The Unisys solution replaces a highly manual remittance process whereby RSL's bank received payments through the mail, posted checks and sent paper records to the carrier. "We saw that as a very manual process with a great deal of manual entry duplicated by both the bank and by us," says Frank Newdeck, who has just retired as RSL's vice president and CIO. The inefficiencies associated with that process, he adds, represented "low-hanging fruit that we could get very quickly."

Unisys suggested a solution based on a remittance operation it was running for cable TV provider Comcast Corp. (Philadelphia) at facilities in Westchester, N.Y. and Tukwila, Wash. RSL was skeptical that the process would translate well to the needs of a group life insurer, according to Newdeck. "We receive everything from 40-page list bills to simple checks and everything in between that you can imagine," he says.

However, after considerable study by both parties, RSL accepted the solution and began work in March 2006. Unisys is currently processing both list bills and self-admin bills at its facilities, converting remittances into images and data, and providing an electronic feed to RSL's legacy billing system. "Instead of manually posting premium, our people now use images from the paper Unisys scanned and can make decisions based on that as to what can be posted as premium," Newdeck explains.

RSL went live on the new solution with its first office in December and will get the rest of its offices online by the end of February.

The Unisys solution currently enables RSL to post 50 percent of the premium received through the mail, reducing the amount of follow-up needed to reconcile payments with billing. By the addition of business rules to the current process, RSL plans to increase the automated payment stream up to 75 percent during the course of 2007.

RSL is currently in the requirements phase for a system to replace the legacy billing system, according to Dan Falkenstein, RSL's current vice president and CIO. "We hope to be in development by the end of the year," he says.

One of the flaws of the existing system is that it cannot interface with the Unisys remittance solution, according to Newdeck. Using the current system, Unisys is unaware of the adding of new clients, he explains. "The first time Unisys knows about that new client is when a remittance comes in, and if that remittance isn't correct, Unisys will definitely not be able to post it."

Newdeck says that the managed solution itself involved no up-front investment on the part of RSL. "The arrangement we have is that Unisys is basically building the system to reuse it with other people, and they are going to recoup their investment from us because we are paying by the piece for every remittance," he says.

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

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