One of Canada’s largest life and health insurance companies has started a project that will use software to help speed up the production of quotes for group benefits programs.
Montreal-based Industrial Alliance Insurance and Financial Services Inc. on Monday said Global IQX Inc. will supply the platform for the project, the first phase of which is expected to be completed next April.
Jacques Parent, vice-president of sales and underwriting for the group insurance business at Canada’s fifth-largest life and health insurance company, said the Global IQX software will provide more flexibility and reduce data re-entry, resulting in significant savings.
The fact that the software runs on Microsoft Corp. Windows servers will also help reduce costs. “The current software we’re using was the only software (for the group benefits business) still on the mainframe, so it was a bit costly to operate,” Parent said.
Over all, Parent said he expects savings from implementing the Global IQX software to pay for the system in 18 to 24 months.
Industrial Alliance started shopping for a replacement for its mainframe sales, underwriting and renewal software early this year, he said, and settled on the Global IQX product in July. Following implementation of the first phase, for quoting on new business, Parent said it will take a few more months to implement the software for renewals.
Michael de Waal, founder and president of Global IQX, said his company’s software usually takes between six and nine months to implement in the first phase, with more capabilities often added in subsequent phases.
In the group benefits business, de Waal said, companies like Industrial Alliance receive requests for proposal from insurance brokers. They respond with quotations, which the Global IQX software can help them produce.
“The process of putting together an answer to an RFP is quite complex in an insurance company,” said Benoit de La Selle, director of sales at Global IQX, and the software helps manage the work flow.
Business rules can be built into the system, de Waal said, but it can also help insurance underwriters adjust quotes. There is no need to re-enter data in a separate underwriting system. Once the company closes the business, he added, data from the Global IQX system can be fed directly into a separate administrative system where it will reside through the life of the policy.
Global IQX sells the software in modules, which can be purchased as a complete suite or individually. The cost of the system varies widely with the configuration chosen, but would start at around $100,000 and the company is currently negotiating a contract worth about $2 million, said de Waal.
De Waal founded Global IQX in 1999, and he said the company now has about a dozen clients, all in North America. They include Toronto-based Sun Life Assurance Co. of Canada and Principal Financial Group of Des Moines, Iowa. The company currently has almost 80 employees and is adding two or three people per month, he said.
The value of the contract with Industrial Alliance was not made public, but de Waal said it is “a significant opportunity for us. Certainly it’s our first one in the Quebec market and we’re very pleased to have it.”
Industrial Alliance, a 113-year-old company that offers a range of life and health insurance, auto and home insurance, retirement plans, mutual funds and mortgages, insures more than 1.7 million Canadians, administers about $30 billion in assets and has some 2,600 employees.