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.

Thursday Oct 06, 2011

Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Launches Claims Adjudication Solution from Oracle

This year, more than ever, Oracle OpenWorld is the place to be for insurance companies. More than insurance attendees were on hand to share experiences, network, and learn from each other. But even as the gathering wraps up, one healthcare payer is putting in long hours at its head offices to launch an ambitious transformation project.

Harvard Pilgrim Health Care will go live this month with its new claims adjudication system built on Oracle technology. Harvard Pilgrim is known for delivering consistently outstanding service in the areas of clinical quality and customer service. For eight years running, the payer has been ranked the number one private health plan in America by the National Committee for Quality Assurance. With its new Oracle Health Insurance claims engine, Harvard Pilgrim hopes to push its reputation for excellence to the next level.

Harvard Pilgrim seeks to put in place flexible, adaptive technologies that help the payer respond to the needs of the marketplace. Harvard Pilgrim also aims to reduce expenses , all while processing millions of yearly transactions consistently, accurately and effectively and maintaining an outstanding level of customer service to plan members.

“Our objective at Oracle Insurance is to provide flexible, rules-driven systems that help insurers meet their business goals: rapid introduction of new products, efficient customer service, compliance with industry regulations, and effective performance management,” said Don Russo, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Oracle Insurance. “We’re very proud to be part of helping Harvard Pilgrim Health Care achieve these business goals. With our new claims application expected to be widely available in the coming calendar year, we look forward to helping other healthcare payers achieve similar success.”

To learn more about the project and Oracle’s new claims engine for healthcare payers, read the press release on Oracle.com.

Lynne Sampson is senior marketer for Oracle Insurance.

Wednesday Oct 05, 2011

Next Generation a Focus for Insurers at Oracle OpenWorld

It’s that time of year again, and this year, Oracle OpenWorld is bigger than ever for insurance companies. More than 600 insurance customers have descended on San Francisco to network, attend sessions, and learn about Oracle’s vision and strategy for the industry.

On Monday, Oracle Insurance senior vice president Don Russo reviewed results from an industry survey conducted by Oracle earlier this year. One of the most striking results from the survey was around customer service. Nearly two thirds of insurers said they could provide faster, more efficient service if they had better technology in place, and just over half said they could provide self-service options to their customers, such as web portals.

A customer panel during the insurance general session picked up on these results, with speakers from ING, Farmers Insurance and CIGNA outlining the challenges the industry faces in attracting a new generation of customers. Younger people are accustomed to researching and buying products online, and insurers that don’t offer online self-service may lose out to those that do. The panel outlined the steps their companies are taking to keep up with changing customer demands, including educational web sites that guide young consumers through a questionnaire to determine the right products for their needs.

Oracle’s sponsor for the insurance track, Cognizant, also focused on attracting the next generation, with a discussion on “the future of work.” Cognizant discussed how a new generation of workers is moving away from email to newer communication methods such as social media and texting, and how insurance companies can make work environments more flexible and open to attract younger workers.

Other challenges discussed during the general session included modernizing existing IT systems, which nearly one-third of insurers cited as their top technology issue. Oracle’s suite of adaptive, rules-driven systems is designed to fit into existing IT architectures, allowing “progressive renovation” to reduce the risk of a “big bang” replacement. Sessions on Oracle’s solutions for the Life, P&C and Healthcare insurance sectors continue all this week. Look for further blog entries as Oracle OpenWorld 2011 continues.

Lynne Sampson is senior marketer for Oracle Insurance.

Wednesday Sep 14, 2011

Why Your Proof-of-Concept Should Be a Proof-of-Capability

Policy administration systems are core to a carrier's operation. Replacing these systems presents more risk than nearly any other IT project. Carriers should carefully weigh the risks against the benefits as they build the business case for embarking on a modernization project.

In a previous Oracle Insurance Blog I highlighted best practices recommended bySecurian Financial Group's Denise Smieja about the company’s successful approach to replacing its legacy policy administration system. Smieja along with Roger Soppe, Oracle Insurance, were among Insurance & Technology magazine’s virtual roundtable of industry experts that recently weighed in on this topic. While Smieja offered insight on criteria carriers should consider when developing a request for proposal, Soppe focused on another critical step in the evaluation process: the proof-of-concept (POC).

In the article, Setting the Stage with a Solid Proof of Concept, Soppe noted that while many insurers are familiar with the idea of a POC, they may skip this important step due to time or budget constraints. He cited how a leading North American life insurance carrier demonstrated the value of a POC in proving the capabilities of the “people, process and technology” of the vendors and systems integrators being evaluated for its policy administration migration project.

“Other carriers can adopt this idea of a ‘proof-of-capability’ in their own policy admin transformation projects,” advised Soppe in the article. “This process reduces risk and helps build buy-in across the organization. This approach can be crucial to receiving a green light -- it is the final validation of all of the research and decision making that the carrier has done to date and sets the stage for success.”

Click here to read more or click here to download the Oracle Insurance strategy brief, “Proof-of-Concept Done Right: Mitigating the Risk of Policy Administration System Migrations.”

You can also learn more about Oracle Insurance and how insurance carriers are leveraging its solutions to adapt to change, better service customers, and better manage their business for compliance and growth at Oracle OpenWorld, next month in San Francisco, Calif.

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

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For mor information, visit oracle.com/insurance.

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