Paul Zamora has been with
ICW Group for eight years, but
remembers well the inefficiencies
he found when he arrived. Today,
with continued improvements via
software upgrades, many inefficiencies are a thing of the past.
“When I got here we had tech-
nology, but none of the systems
spoke to each other,” says Zamora,
senior vice president, workers’
compensation underwriting. “You
literally entered the same applica-
tion data several times.”
Most carriers have a log-in or screening system to see if
there have been other applications entered by the same person,
and if not, the data was logged in. From there, one system rated
it, another conducted the modeling, still another issued a quote,
and finally, if ICW decided to write the business, another sys-
tem would issue the policy.
In 2008, ICW launched the Snap underwriting system and
agent portal from FirstBest Systems. It sits on top of the ICW
platform and allows all facets of the carrier’s systems to communicate with each other so business users enter the data once and
it feeds to all the other systems.
FirstBest did not have a workers’ comp background when
developing Snap, so they relied on help from ICW. Zamora concedes there was risk involved in contracting with what was then
a new company with an unfinished product and no customers.
The upside, though, was the solution was much more affordable
and customizable for ICW because FirstBest programmers listened to ICW on what workers’ comp carriers wanted in terms
of functionality and workflow.
“We got a customizable product at a significantly lower
price,” says Zamora.
A team from within ICW, which included IT and the business unit, worked closely with FirstBest. The fact the solution
provider didn’t have another product at that time proved to
be beneficial, according to Zamora, because FirstBest had no
preconceived notions about workers’ compensation.
“FirstBest felt workers’ comp was a line they wanted to get
their foot in,” he says. “FirstBest had good listeners, they worked
long hours, and they got us up and running in a good timeframe.”
Over the years there have been upgrades and ICW is due for
another this year. Upgrades have increased functionality and
tweaked areas where ICW offered feedback, explains Zamora.
“We’ve been putting off an upgrade for a while,” he says. “We
wanted better functionality than what we were seeing in some
of the other improvements. They’ve added functionality now
and we want to take advantage of it.”
Because ICW has not taken an upgrade in two years, the
process will take longer than normal—six to nine months—
according to Zamora. Normal upgrades run approximately three
months. A project team will be put together and the majority of
the work will involve regression testing.
“The project plan says anywhere from six to nine months, but
you don’t know what you don’t know until you start,” he says.
During the upgrade, Zamora explains there will be no
changes in processes, but he admits the carrier might tweak
some afterward because, with the new functionality, ICW can
eliminate some work-arounds.
The upgrade contains mobile capabilities for ICW and will
give remote workers the ability to access Snap with an iPad.
ICW deals with agents, underwriters, and risk managers in the
field quite extensively, so the new capability will allow those
mobile workers to complete their jobs on site.
“The mobile capability will allow them to get into Snap and
see what is going on with the account and access data,” says
Zamora. “Before, it was harder to do those tasks on the laptop.”
“Before we went live and where we are today, our growth in
submission count is up 460 percent,” says Zamora. “Our growth
in quoted business is up over 500 percent and our growth in
premium is up 440 percent. We’ve been able to do that while
lowering expenses. We’ve become extremely scalable so our
expense ratio is low for the industry.”
Zamora believes ICW will continue to achieve a high level
of scalability, which means lower expense ratios and lower
premiums for customers.
“It will allow us to elevate our brand,” he says. “We can be
extremely responsive. There are times when agents really need
us and we can help them. Underwriters have access to everything and provide great service to our clients. Even in the small
business workers’ compensation arena, it will allow us to grow
that segment of the business. Before, we didn’t look at small
companies, but now the process is automated.” ITA
Make It Better
Upgrades give insurers the opportunity to take part in the mobile revolution.