White Paper: Digital enablement in a legacy environment

This white paper has been written to explore the concepts and scenarios in which an insurer could maintain its existing architecture and still be able to deliver important facets of a digital strategy – namely, multi-channel delivery and end-user Self-service. The stumbling blocks to initiating or accomplishing a digital strategy are well documented. However, the solutions to key issues are not. Check out our White Paper below to read more.


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Another fantastic event on digital enablement in legacy environments

On Tuesday 12th December we ran an event aimed at those in the insurance industry who are involved in the delivery of their company’s digital strategy (e.g. Marketing, Claims, Business Development, IT).

We’re very glad to say it was a huge success which has led us to host the same event next month. Click here to register your place.

The event covered (and will continue to cover at our next event):

  • How to extend the lifespan and functionality of your existing (legacy) systems
  • Enable digital insurance delivery across multiple channels, and introduce self-service
  • Tackling mainframe/green screen environments – how to work with challenging applications
  • An overview of Agile Bridge, a digital enablement service which connects front and back-end systems

As the insurance industry makes inroads to be more adaptable to digital methods, our event answered lots of questions from attendees of many insurance backgrounds. The event was oversubscribed, and on the day we held interesting discussions on how digital can work in an existing legacy environment.

Many insurers have systems and applications that, while core to the business, struggle to meet emerging expectations. To remain at the forefront of the competition, insurers must be able to adapt digitally. 89% of consumers began doing business with a competitor following a poor customer experience (Source: Harris Interactive).

Business Agility’s CEO Roy Murphy, who presents at the event, said: ‘Providing a digital self-service capability is now a business imperative. It’s not a ‘nice-to have’ or getting ahead of the competition – it’s keeping up with the competition. You can’t afford to wait for a drawn-out transformation project to finish. You need to be able to maximise what you’ve already got in a very timely manner. If your current digital strategy is going to be implemented over two or three years then you’re already too late. You’ll need to act now, and we’ve got the expertise for this exact need.’

Our experts at the event spoke about how insurance companies can be completely transformed using some key methods. We also have a handy white paper on the subject for attendees.

If you’re interested in coming to January’s event, click here to register. It will be held at The Perrier-Jouët Room, 30 St Mary’s Axe on Thursday, 25th January. It may be the best decision your company has ever made!

“Every element of our business is optimised for a digital world.” CEO, Hastings Direct

 

Hastings

Low interest rates and the Brexit vote have placed a cloud of uncertainty over the profits of many companies. However, despite this, the financial results released from Hastings Group Holdings Plc have proven to be quite eye-catching.  

The Insurer has reported a massive increase in revenue and a reduction in costs. Its Gross Written Premiums climbed 25%, from £614.9 million to £769 million, and net revenue jumping from £481 million to £590.3 million. 

Hastings Direct have adopted Agile Bridge

Gary Hoffman, Chief Executive Officer at Hastings, noted the firm’s digital capabilities had been a driving force behind its success. He said:

The world is now digitally led and we’ve created a model that is built to take advantage of this shift throughout the entire customer journey. Whether that’s through the price comparison website distribution of our products (which account for around 90% of our new business sales), our innovative use of data or through our advanced risk selection and fraud detection capabilities.”  

This is of great interest to us at Business Agility! That’s because Hastings Direct was one of our first clients to adopt Agile Bridge, a Digital Integration product which enables insurers to introduce digital capabilities with existing back-end systems. 

With a changing landscape of increased regulation and growing competition from international markets, insurers have a constant challenge on their hands. Modern systems and efficient processes are crucial to underpin a client-centric approach. It’s one of the reasons we created Agile Bridge in the first place.  

Our innovative approach to legacy applications enables a risk-reduced engagement and improved solution delivery.

To find out more about Agile Bridge and what it can do, watch our recent webinar that offers an overview of it – check it out here.

Agile Bridge – Overview

Missed our webinar on digital enablement for insurance? Don’t worry, you can access it below.

The session is specifically aimed at insurance companies either looking at or underway with a digital strategy. It talks about our solution, Agile Bridge which enables providers of insurance, insurers, brokers, MGAs to:

  • Leverage and extend the lifespan and functionality of existing (legacy) systems
  • Enable digital insurance delivery across multiple channels
  • Improve the customer experience (e.g., introducing self-service, handling the entire MTA process through digital portals)
  • Allow continuity of experience while back-end systems are updated/replaced

Please complete the below form to access the session.

You will have access to two video clips:
1) An overview of Agile Bridge that comes with technical analysis about how Agile Bridge sits in your existing system followed by a summary
2) Just the technical analysis section on its own.

Once complete you will be redirected to the webinar “Agile Bridge

You will also receive a download link via e-mail. You can have access to both video clips here.

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White Paper: Going live with insurance IT in weeks or months, not years

Our tremendously nice partners, IBA, have released a very interesting White Paper about the process behind delivering Insurance IT systems. The White Paper tackles the conceit of ‘large-scale’ IT projects in insurance and challenges the ‘norm’ of these needing to be a lengthy, drawn-out endeavour. The paper nicely sums up their (and our) ethos of delivering IT value quickly and in a collaborative approach. We’re all about the ‘One team approach’!

The paper is available from their website – access it here: White Paper: Going live with insurance IT in weeks or months, not years 

Who are IBA? you may ask….well, they are one of our select technology partners and they created IBSuite.

IBSuite is a complete multi-channel sales and Policy Administration System

IBSuite is an end to end insurance solution covering all processes from quote to policy, claims handling, payments, reconciliation and reporting.

Much more info can be found here.

 

Hastings Direct to deliver its digital strategy

Press Release

October 2015

Hastings Direct selects Agile Bridge to help deliver its digital strategy for Guidewire InsuranceSuite

Hastings Direct, one of the UK’s fastest growing personal lines insurance providers today announced it has selected new technology to enable a new phase of its digital strategy.

Through the implementation of a User-Experience Platform and Agile Bridge, Hastings Direct aims to deliver a digital workstream programme that will enable self-service capabilities to its customers for a multitude of purposes.

This user experience solution is designed to enhance Hastings Direct’s existing investment in Guidewire PolicyCenter by delivering a rich, consistent experience that can be customised across multiple channels – on any digital device and at any time.

The selected solution has been constructed to extend the functionality of Guidewire InsuranceSuite by:

  • Enabling self-service through digital channels (e.g. policy holders can manage their own MTAs, quotations, renewals, claims tracking etc. 24/7)
  • Speeding up the delivery of new products to the market
  • Allowing policy access via multiple platforms, multiple channels and different browser types
  • Enabling customer self-service access across multiple devices (e.g. desktop, mobile, tablet, SmartTV)

“We’re excited to be working with Hastings Direct and supporting its commitment to its customers with this innovative, game changing technology.” – Roy Murphy, CEO, Business Agility

About the technology – Agile Bridge

Agile Bridge is designed to provide a straightforward integration between various User Experience/Customer Portal platforms and market leading claims management and policy administration solutions, including Guidewire InsuranceSuite.

About the vendor – Business Agility

Business Agility designs, delivers and supports robust, scalable technical solutions that optimise your business processes. It specialises in Microsoft and Insurance-specific technologies, such as Guidewire InsuranceSuite and IBSuite. It is an Agile, dynamic and innovative delivery partner with core skills in process automation, workflow, content management, portal development and bespoke insurance solutions.​

About Hastings Direct

Hastings Direct is one of the fastest growing personal lines insurance providers to the UK market, with 1.8 million customers and employing over 2,000 people at sites in Bexhill, Newmarket, Leicester and Gibraltar.

Voted Car Insurer Provider of the Year for the third year running by the public at the Consumer Moneyfacts Awards, Hastings Direct has built its business by championing the customer through its refreshingly straightforward service and products. Hastings Direct offers car, motorcycle, van and household insurance direct to the public.

Hastings Direct is a trading name of Hastings Insurance Services Limited, which also trades via the “People’s Choice” and “insurePink” brands.

Going digital: A $470bn opportunity for the insurance industry

We've written before about the insurance world's readiness for digital transformation. Compared to other industries such as retail and even banking, insurance is relatively old-school – interactions with customers are still largely restricted to channels like snail mail and the phone, and self-service and mobile solutions are mostly unheard of. But that's not to say that change isn't inevitable, or that it isn't just around the corner.

A new report from Accenture, published on August 4th, attempts to describe what this means for insurers in financial terms. It claims that as digital transformation becomes a reality, as much as $470 billion (£300 billion) in existing industry revenue will be "in play" in the near future.

To put it more simply, firms that continue to sell the same commoditised products as in the pre-digital age will lose customers, while those that set themselves apart with innovative new services will gain them.

Some 23,000 individuals from 33 countries took part in the Accenture survey, with their responses indicating that the industry as it is today simply isn't delivering.
Fewer than a third (29 per cent) were satisfied with their current insurance products and providers, and more than a fifth (21 per cent) stated explicitly that "most insurance providers are the same" – an increase of seven percentage points on similar research carried out the previous year.

It follows, then, that customer loyalty is in short supply – just 16 per cent of respondents said they would definitely buy more products from their current provider.

However, when quizzed about their digital wants and needs, their responses showed decidedly more fervour. Almost half (47 per cent) expressed a desire for more online interactions with their insurers. And while a fair number of property and casualty insurance customers had bought policies online (49 per cent) or on mobile (41 per cent), the majority (85 per cent) said they felt their providers' digital experience could be better.

Finally, 23 per cent of respondents told Accenture they would consider buying policies from non-traditional firms – specifically technology giants. This should definitely be enough to prompt insurers to sit up and pay attention: if they don't respond to customer demand with the right digital products and services, and someone else does, then as much as a quarter of their business could be at stake.

"Today's insurance customer is more empowered, more social and has higher expectations of his or her providers," said John Cusano, a senior managing director at Accenture's global Insurance practice.

"The study data indicates insurers are not keeping up with rising customer expectations, leading to increased customer dissatisfaction with insurance providers. This has created a 'switching economy,' which threatens traditional insurers by giving the advantage to companies most successful at exploiting digital technologies."

If you're an insurer, how are your efforts to go digital doing?

Guidewire ClaimCenter: An overview

Earlier this month, Gartner published its latest Magic Quadrant report for claims management modules in the property and casualty insurance sectors. Despite the baffling name, the premise of the Magic Quadrant series is simple – either annually or biannually, the research firm maps the vendors in a given market along two axis: completeness of vision and ability to execute.

This year, for the second year in a row, Guidewire ClaimCenter has come out on top. The claims management system – which, at a little over a decade old, is something of a latecomer to the market – was named a Magic Quadrant Leader, falling further along each axis than seven of its competitors.

In a short space of time, ClaimCenter has assumed what seems to be an indomitable position in the ranks of claims management systems. This is a big deal   in the insurance sector, where many firms are currently struggling with legacy technology and pushing in the direction of ambitious transformation projects. But what is ClaimCenter, exactly, and what's the story behind its unstoppable rise?

Here's a brief overview of the two-year Magic Quadrant Leader.

What is it?

Guidewire ClaimCenter is a web-based claims management system, built in Java and offering support for DB2, Oracle and SQL Server databases. The developer, Guidewire Software, was founded in 2001, launched Claimcenter in 2003, and has been traded on the NYSE since 2012. Its other products include PolicyCenter and BillingCenter, and collectively the three make up its InsuranceSuite solution. They're sold on a term license basis.

Who's using it?

According to data from Gartner, ClaimCenter counted some 117 live implementations as of the end of 2014. 81 of these were in North America, 20 in Europe, and the rest spread across Latin America, China, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. As for InsuranceSuite as a whole, Guidewire claims that more than 300 implementations have either been completed or are in progress.

What makes it so special?

ClaimCenter is designed for end-to-end management of the entire claim lifecycle, from first notification of loss through advanced adjudication to claim closure. This saves insurers time that would have otherwise been spent manually rekeying data, as well as making advanced reporting possible and allowing them to continually refine their claim handling processes.

Gartner also notes that Guidewire boasts the largest network of systems integrators (SIs) of any of the vendors named in this year's Magic Quadrant report, meaning expertise in ClaimCenter is widely accessible.

What does it take to integrate?

Despite offering a generally glowing endorsement, Gartner cautions that would-be Guidewire customers have a few drawbacks to consider. One is the cost of an ClaimCenter implementation, as well as the resources required to carry one out effectively. A byproduct is that just 21 per cent of customers are using versions from 2013 or later.

"Guidewire and its SI partners have been challenged to supply qualified resources in the face of the strong demand for Guidewire solutions," the report adds. "Some implementations have been impacted by resource issues."

Want to learn more about ClaimCenter? Read about what Business Agility Group can do for you.

Should the insurance world be worried about cybercrime?

Is there a chance that your company might one day be at the centre of a major cyber attack? A decade or so ago, this probably wouldn't be a question you'd spend very much of your time thinking about. Today, though, things are different: high-profile data breaches are practically a monthly occurrence, and organisations in a wide range of industries are proving themselves susceptible.

They haven't been evenly distributed, of course. Most of the biggest cyber attacks of the past year and a half were targeted at North American retailers, with Target and Home Depot perhaps the two most infamous examples. The Sony Pictures hack of November 2014 was also well publicised. Insurance firms, however, seemed to be out of the firing line – until earlier this year.

Anthem, one of the biggest US health insurance providers, reported back in February that hackers had accessed and exposed personally identifiable information on around 80 million of its customers. This made for what the New York Times called "by far the largest breach in the industry" to date. Claims data turned out not to have been compromised, but the victims' medical identification numbers, social security numbers, home addresses and email addresses were all grabbed and later flogged on online black markets.

To the uninitiated, it might come across as odd that hackers would have much interest in this information. Compare with credit and debit card numbers, for instance, which can actually be used to carry out fraudulent transactions. 

This is a misconception, however. According to security experts interviewed in the New York Times report, cyber attacks that target personal information – and, in particular, medical records – are on the rise because the data represents a veritable treasure trove of fraud opportunities.

One researcher said that records of the kind stolen from Anthem have been known to fetch as much as $251 (£160) in black market auctions. In comparison, credit card numbers sell for about 33 cents.

What should insurers do to defend their data?

So, how can insurance firms keep their customers' data hidden from prying eyes and out of the hands of hackers? It's a tough one, because a lot of insurers are still storing their data in aging and siloed legacy systems – and, in some cases, bulging manilla folders. For obvious reasons, this combination of old-school architecture and duplicated information isn't the best starting point for world-class data security.

In the aftermath of the Anthem breach, the New York Department of Financial Services conducted a study of some US health insurance providers to establish some of their data protection must-haves. One of these was identified as encryption: while organisations in the States are required by law to encrypt medical records, insurers sometimes fail to do the same with their non-medical data. This was the case with Anthem, according to one executive.

Another important risk for insurance firms to address is that of third-party access to their systems. Insurers work with a lot of intermediaries, such as brokers and agents, and recent cyber attacks have shown that this kind of remote connectivity is extremely attractive to hackers armed with stolen usernames and passwords. Possible countermeasures include multi-factor authentication, as well as strong authorisation controls to prevent third parties from getting wider access than they actually require.

With the costs associated with data breaches on the rise – $363 per medical record, according to the latest data from the Ponemon Institute – it's critical for insurance firms to act sooner rather than later to defend their customers' information. Would your company withstand a cyber attack?

How long until health insurers embrace wearables?

It's no longer really fair to say that wearable devices aren't yet part of the mainstream tech landscape – not when it'll be possible later in the month to step into an Apple Store and step out again with a shiny new Apple Watch on your wrist. No – wearables are here to stay, and it won't be long before they're integral to the way we live and work.

Last October, a survey by PwC found that 20 per cent of US adults own some form of wearable device, putting the adoption rate to date on par with that on tablets a few years previously. 73 per cent of respondents were excited about the potential of wearables to make media and entertainment more immersive and fun; 72 per cent felt the devices could be used to improve customer service in retail; and 80 per cent saw them as the means to live a healthier lifestyle.

This brings us on to the use of wearable devices in the health insurance market. It's often been remarked in the past that the health and fitness data so commonly tracked by smart watches and wristbands could be harnessed by insurers in inventive ways: to reward customers with lower premiums when they minimise their lifestyle risks, for example. This is far from the norm yet, but judging from the way things are going, it's not far away, either.

In fact, a recent report from Accenture attempted to put a timeframe to the adoption of underwriting based on wearable device data in mainstream insurance. Published on May 5th and comprising a global survey of over 2,000 business and IT executives, it found that almost two-thirds (63 per cent) of stakeholders believe that wearables "will be adopted broadly by the insurance industry within the next two years".

The advantages of wearables…

Why should insurers implement wearable device-based policies? Well, for one thing, the use case described above – rewarding customers for healthy living – speaks to one of the industry's key development priorities today: the ability to offer digitally-empowered, tech-savvy consumers a personalised and transparent service.

This was highlighted as an important competitive differentiator by almost three-quarters (73 per cent) of the respondents in the Accenture survey. And, of the handful of insurers already using wearables, half (50 per cent) said they'd seen a positive return on investment as a result of their efforts.

Beyond that, the use of more sophisticated data analytics in insurance can also help to cut costs: it reduces claims leakage as a result of undercharging and overpayment, can be used to combat fraudulent claims, and generally makes life simpler for underwriters.

… And the challenges

There are, of course, still challenges standing in the way of widespread adoption of wearables-based insurance products. Most of these involve managing and drawing value from the vast amounts of data created by smart watches and wristbands, which insurers' existing infrastructure is usually ill-equipped to facilitate. Over half (56 per cent) of the respondents in the Accenture survey described managing their data as either a "very" or "extremely" challenging task, for example.

A common problem is lack of integration. Insurers' legacy tech is often made up of discrete IT systems that require data be rekeyed by hand when it passes from one department to another, making joined-up policy and claims management, analytics and customer service an impossibility.

Elsewhere, issues like the data science skills gap and concerns over security may hold some insurers back from throwing themselves into the wearables space. Making decisions based on an unprecedented volume and variety of data isn't easy, and nor is storing and processing that data in a secure and compliant way.

However, Accenture's report revealed that few believe these barriers will prevent adoption in the medium term engineering exam results. Three-quarters (75 per cent) of the survey respondents said they ultimately expected insurers to embrace a new generation of tech platforms that "reshape industries into interconnected ecosystems". And nearly two-thirds (65 per cent) planned to engage with new digital partners in the insurance industry themselves.

"Insurers have traditionally based their underwriting and pricing processes on a limited view of certain customer variables," said John Cusano, senior managing director of the firm's global insurance practice. 

"Emerging technologies such as wearables and other connected devices can help insurers break from their traditional business models and provide outcome-based services for their customers."