Monday Nov 21, 2011

Smooth Sailing or Rough Waters: Navigating Policy Administration Modernization

Life insurance and annuity carriers continue to recognize the need to modernize their aging policy administration systems, but may be hesitant to move forward because of the inherent risk involved. To help carriers better prepare for what lies ahead LOMA's Resource Magazine asked Karen Furtado, partner of Strategy Meets Action, to help them chart a course in Navigating Policy Administration Selection, the cover story of this month’s issue.

The industry analyst and research firm recently asked insurance carriers to name the business drivers for replacing legacy policy administration systems. The top five cited, according to Furtado, centered on:

  • Supporting growth in current lines
  • Improving competitive position
  • Containing and reducing costs
  • Supporting growth in new lines
  • Supporting agent demands and interaction

It’s no surprise that fueling growth, both now and in the future, continues to be a key driver for modernization. Why? Inflexible, hard-coded, legacy systems require customization by IT every time a change is required. This in turn impedes a carrier’s ability to be agile, constraining their ability to quickly adapt to changing regulatory requirements and evolving market demands. It also stymies their ability to quickly bring to market new products or rapidly configure changes to existing ones, and also can inhibit how carriers service customers and distribution channels.

In the article, Furtado advised carriers to ensure that the policy administration system they are considering is current and modern, with an adaptable user interface and flexible service-oriented architecture. She said carriers to should ask themselves, “How much do you need flexibility and agility now and in the future? Does it support the business processes and rules that are needed for you to be able to create that adaptable environment?”

Furtado went on to advise that carriers “Connect your strategy to your business and technical capabilities before you make investment choices…You want to enable your organization to transform for the future, not just automate the past.”

Unlocking High Performance with Policy Administration Transformation also was the topic of a recent LOMA webcast moderated by Ron Clark, editor of LOMA's Resource Magazine. The web cast, which featured speakers from Oracle Insurance and Capgemini, focused on how insurers can competitively drive high performance by:

  • Replacing a legacy policy administration system with a modern, flexible platform
  • Optimizing IT and operations costs, creating consistent processes and eliminating resource redundancies
  • Selecting the right partner with the best blend of technology, operational, and consulting capabilities to achieve market leadership
  • Understanding the value of outsourcing closed block operations

Learn more by clicking here to access this free, one-hour recorded webcast.

Helen Pitts, is senior product marketing manager for Oracle Insurance's life and annuities solutions.

Friday Nov 04, 2011

Oracle Insurance Earns Two ACORD Achievement Awards for Life & Annuity

Oracle Insurance earned recognition for its continued leadership, adoption and implementation of ACORD (Association for Cooperative Operations Research and Development) industry data standards for life insurance and annuities. The recognition came during a special ceremony held on November 3 at the ACORD Implementation Forum in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Oracle received two awards specifically for its use of ACORD web services standards by Oracle Insurance Policy Administration for Life and Annuity:

  • Early Adopter Award - Life & Annuity Plug and Play (PnP)
  • Early Adopter Award - ACORD Web Services Profile (AWSP) standard

Oracle was cited by ACORD for developing, implementing and certifying its use of the AWSP standard in its policy administration system to support these ACORD LAH XML transactions:

  • Add Beneficiary (Life)
  • Add Beneficiary (Annuity)
  • Customer Contact (Client Record)

Earlier this year the company successfully demonstrated its use of the AWSP web standards during the ACORD PnP Tooling Jamboree at the 2011 ACORD LOMA Insurance Systems Forum.

"Oracle is to be congratulated not only for earning these awards, but for its continued leadership in showing the industry how beneficial ACORD data standards are for improving business, integration, and data flow,” said Lloyd Chumbley, Vice President, Standards, ACORD.

Oracle is a long-time member of ACORD and has been involved in the association’s working groups for life insurance and annuities, including the ACORD PnP Consortium Working Group. These latest awards from ACORD demonstrate Oracle’s ongoing commitment to the adoption of industry standards in its solutions for the insurance industry. Oracle previously received an ACORD Achievement Award in recognition of its use of ACORD messaging standards for the implementation of Oracle Insurance Policy Administration for Life and Annuity at Securian Financial Group.

Helen Pitts is senior product marketing manager for Oracle Insurance's life and annuities solutions.

Friday Oct 14, 2011

Defining the Rules for Rules-Based Systems

Replacing legacy IT infrastructure with modern, rules-based core systems is a hot topic and is receiving much attention in the industry—just open up a recent insurance technology print or online publication.

One of the carriers I spoke with last week at Oracle OpenWorld said this barrage of information had some within his company questioning what really defines a true, rules-driven policy administration system

Olivier Lafontaine, director of strategy and solutions for EquiSoft, helped to bring some clarity to this topic during his Oracle OpenWorld session, Policy Administration Implementation Levers for Mid-tier Life Insurance Carriers.

Lafontaine explained what distinguishes a rules-driven systemone that has been built from the ground upagainst those that are purported to be such systems (for example, a rules-engine inside a hardcoded system) is its capability to empower a team of business and technical users (actuaries, product managers, rules developers and others) to collaboratively configure transactions that support business process using business rules, without the need to customize or recompile the system’s core code or database structure.

Lafontaine went on to explain that a highly-configurable system that leverages business rules instead of requiring hard-coded customization can provide a carrier with newfound flexibility to:

  • React to market changes faster than the competition

  • Consolidate power in their nicheservice is key to the mid-market

  • Support new products and new distribution channels

  • Reduce operating costs by eliminating redundant tasks, automating transactions over time, and consolidate / optimize user tasks

To find out the more about rules-based policy administration, like Oracle Insurance Policy Administration for Life and Annuity, watch Lafontaine’s session online at Oracle OpenWorld On Demand—along with all keynotes, general and breakout sessions). You can also check out his Oracle OpenWorld interview on the Oracle Insurance YouTube channel along with interviews conducted with Oracle Insurance product strategy and industry leaders to learn more about Oracle’s rules-based, adaptive systems.

Helen Pitts is senior product marketing manager for Oracle Insurance's life and annuities solutions.

Wednesday Oct 12, 2011

Growing Distribution Channels through a Data-as-a-Service Approach

Growth continues to be foremost for North America life, health and annuity insurers, with carriers recognizing the need to refresh their distribution strategies to achieve this critical business imperative. To remain competitive in today’s dynamic market, insurers require the ability to accelerate the quote-to-issue process, while improving their speed of service through streamlined data distribution, consolidation and sharing with their producers and service providers.

During Oracle OpenWorld last week Kevin Walma, vice president, Insurance Products, and Tanya Ho-Wai, product strategy director, shared Oracle's vision for life, health and annuities. They also discussed the benefits that a centralized distribution approach can bring to carriers—in particular one that provides direct data-as-a-service connectivity to their producers and service providers. (You can learn more by downloading my new Oracle Insurance strategy brief, "Making Profitable Connections: A Data-as-a-Service Approach to Growing Insurance Distribution Channels." )

Slow application processing that involves multiple points of connection can negatively impact new submission turnaround times and placement ratios for new policies. In addition, the need for data reentry into multiple carrier and back-office agency systems can further slow time-to-issue and contribute to the risk of errors.

By integrating critical data streams across all stakeholders in the application process and automating key aspects of the quote-to-issue cycle, insurance companies can reduce their average policy application and issuance cycle time and increase sales opportunities—all without increasing their operational costs.

Carriers that leverage a solution such as the Oracle Insurance Data Exchange—one of the largest, online data-as-a-service exchanges for life, health, and annuities—can improve service to current producers by providing a single, secure destination for accessing spending case status, commissions statements and carrier state appointment status. It also provides producers with a single touch point to submit new business applications to multiple carriers.

In a YouTube interview last week Ho-Wai shared some recent enhancements to Oracle Insurance Data Exchange, including expanded service ordering capabilities. Producers can place orders for services—such as paramedical examinations, attending physician’s statements and more—with leading service providers to initiate the fulfillment process and speed processing. Each participating carrier’s underwriting tables are maintained on the data exchange to enable ease of use when entering and submitting service orders, while ensuring accuracy. Plus, service ordering is available both as a direct connect data service and through the Oracle Insurance QuickView web portal.

In another YouTube interview Ho-Wai along with IE Network’s Nathan Collins highlighted how the direct connect integration services available through data exchange benefits carriers, producers, and carriers.  They also announced the launch of a new Oracle Mix community that enables users to register and share best practices for leveraging the Oracle Insurance Data Exchange.

Click here to access Oracle Mix, create your account, and join the Oracle Insurance Data Exchange group.

Helen Pitts is senior product marketing manager for Oracle Insurance's life and annuities solutions.

Friday Oct 07, 2011

Driving “The Need for Speed” for Insurance Carriers

Yesterday while watching The Blue Angels take to the skies over San Francisco in preparation for San Francisco Fleet Week I was reminded of a conversation that I had earlier this week with a client from an insurance carrier attending Oracle OpenWorld. In particular, it reminded me of the iconic line delivered by Tom Cruise’s naval aviator “Maverick” and his RIO “Goose” in Top Gun: “I feel the need…the need for speed.”

This customer, a technology leader for a Tier I carrier and also a fan of The Blue Angels, explained how his company’s previous legacy policy administration system had limited its ability to support the “need for speed”--ultimately constraining the ability to evolve and grow their business. Since implementing the Oracle Insurance Policy Administration the carrier has dramatically reduced its product development cycle and time to launch annuity products to market. It is also differentiating how it conducts business with its customers and distribution channel through improved speed of service.

In their session, “Adapt, Transform and Grow: Oracle’s Vision and Strategy for the Life Market,” at Oracle OpenWorld this week Kevin Walma, Chuck Johnston and Kate Fowler discussed key trends impacting how insurers are conducting business. They also highlighted the recent and planned investments in Oracle’s adaptive insurance solutions for life, health and annuities, including policy administration, data-as-as-service distribution, business intelligence and more.

You can learn more about Oracle Insurance’s commitment to this segment of the industry—and how its solutions are helping insurers drive their “need for speed” by watching Oracle Insurance YouTube video interviews with Walma and Fowler and Johnson .

Helen Pitts is senior product marketing manager for Oracle Insurance's life and annuities solutions.

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