Consolidation in the Canadian insurance industry has led a software integration firm to focus on outsourcing opportunities.

Silverline Technologies Ltd. Monday said it had opened the Canadian Insurance Centre of Excellence where it would help large corporate enterprises in the insurance sector bring acquired companies into the IT fold. While it has been working with insurance firms since 1995, the Centre is intended to organize insurance-related projects to better manage and apply knowledge it gains in specific engagements. The company also works with automotive, manufacturing, financial services and healthcare customers.

Specialists from Silverline’s Toronto office will provide project management and insurance expertise while technical specialists in Silverline’s India-based development

centre handle the actual application coding and maintenance work.

“We’re not building new buildings for it, but we’re certainly creating space and transferring employees and resources in each of these centres.” Kevin Rosen, director of the Silverline’s Canadian insurance practice.

Rosen said Silverline is already working with three Canadian insurance companies (who he wouldn’t name) that would be transferred into the Centre of Excellence.

The centres are being set up to outsource policy administration systems, but there are number of other challenges insurance companies face where Silverline executives think the company could provide assistance. This includes policy administration systems conversion when one insurance carrier buys another. “How do you cost-effectively manage all those policies when all the policies have different terms than the policies that you’ve traditionally issued?” he asked. “Those conversion projects tend to be large, and they tend to be based on some applications that are very old and sometimes have quite poor documentation.”

Silverline would be able to handle everything from user requirements and specification to designing and testing code, Rosen said, project managing the entire process.

Bringing insurer’s legacy infrastructure into the Internet is often a bigger hurdle, Rosen added, and Silverline will also be offering Web-enablement services.

While more property and casualty (P&C) companies seem to be selling online than life insurance firms in the United States, Rosen said the Centre of Excellence will be focused on both areas.

“We’re treating each segment of the industry independently,” he said. “I don’t think you can go to a life insurance company and say we’re P&C experts and say it’s the same thing. I think the issues of the Internet from an operational and relationship standpoint with policy holders and business partners is going to be similar across both sectors.”

Silverline predicts companies will save anywhere from 30 to 40 per cent of their operating costs by displacing costs in application maintenance and support which can then be used to fund the development of new projects.

“It becomes relatively straightforward for us to demonstrate return on an investment utilizing Silverline versus doing it in-house or using some of its competitor’s services,” he said.

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