A financial services provider is helping to both drive and adapt to the evolution of data exchange in the insurance industry.
Hub Financial, a managing general agency (MGA) that deals with more than 3,000 independent brokers, is in the process of installing EDS-Solcorp’s WealthServ-Insurance to support its Canadian support sales and administration operations.
“A lot of new functionality is back office, so it just helps us process business more efficiently – move business more quickly from submission to commission, which serves the broker and the client,” said Jamie McGeachin, vice-president of operations, based in the firm’s Toronto office.
“We also anticipate it will allow us to expand and grow our business without having to expand and grow our staff at the same rate.”
One of the biggest changes, said McGeachin, is that it will allow Hub to automate parts of the data collection process when dealing with insurance carriers like Manulife. Insurance is still, for the most part, a paper-based industry, said McGeachin, but that is changing.
“We are finally catching up to the rest of the world and starting to get into some electronic data exchange. We all need some new systems to help us cope with data exchange,” she explained.
Currently, “I don’t get data in any form from any of my carriers,” added McGeachin. “To find out the status of a case, I can go into their Web site and look it up – certainly they have solutions (for that) – but I don’t want to do that; I want their Web site to populate mine.”
WealthServ-Insurance is a browser-based product and includes an XML-based hub connector to allow for the exchange of data between carriers and MGAs like Hub Financial.
More of EDS-Solcorp’s customers are looking for this type of functionality as the industry begins to embrace automation and turns away from paper, said Alex Sweeny, vice-president of strategic business development.
“The insurance carriers in general are preparing to deliver electronic data. Some do today in some form but this is the beginning of a significant trend away from what used to be simple, standalone back office systems,” he said.
That trend is being driven by a desire to catch up to other areas of financial services like mutual funds, which are already conducted electronically, he said. Consolidation between MGAs is also helping to drive change, he added. As organizations become larger, the dollars they are willing to invest in new technology increases commensurately.
McGeachin said that Hub is planning to have WealthServ up and running by April of next year and is currently working with EDS-Solcorp to customize the product for its needs.
WealthServ is a hosted solution, so there will be no rollout, as such. But Hub will have to train the 3,000 brokers it deals with, as well as 200 internal employees that will have access to the product.
A mix of online learning and classroom or in-person sessions will be available for training purposes, said McGeachin. “However a broker would like us to train on the use of this, we’ll accommodate that.”
McGeachin said she expects that the industry-wide transition from paper-based to fully electronic transactions should be completed within the next two years.