From the June 2011 issue of Tech Decisions • Subscribe!

New Kid on the Block

As a new entrant to the commercial insurance market, Arista Insurance felt the key challenge it faced was to gain the confidence of its customers and ensure they viewed Arista’s solution as credible when assessed against the larger more established players in their market.

Arista successfully implemented another software solution, SSP’s Insight solution for administration of its business. With the back-office administration system in place, Arista looked to provide service and capability to their brokers by extending the system to provide online access to functionality and some of its products, according to David Cheeseman, head of business systems for Arista.

Arista set out to provide products and services that were operationally more efficient and cost effective for its customers, explains Cheeseman.

“When we embarked on development of our Web trading platform we had already established a reputation for speed of delivery and innovation in our approach to administering commercial insurance contracts,” says Cheeseman. “Our Web solution had to build on this.”

Arista selected edge IPK’s edgeConnect user experience platform, which is designed to deliver secure and optimal experiences to all users, on any device, in any language. edgeConnect also offered Arista’s business analysts the tools to develop, deploy and manage the internal and external user experiences and changing user requirements—all without an in-house IT staff.

From a technical perspective, Arista needed to ensure seamless integration between the front-end presentation layer and the back-office system, explains Cheeseman. Ensuring that the development capability could be retained in house and that the tool selected could be used by Arista’s team of business analysts were also important, he added.

“We also had the ever-present economic pressures that a new business faces and we were looking for a supplier that recognized the dynamics involved in a start up and be willing to work with us to determine a cost model appropriate to a growing business,” says Cheeseman.

The development of an online trading capability was a key component of Arista’s business plan, according to Cheeseman.

“At the time we commenced the development, straight-though processing across all elements of the policy life cycle was an alien concept in relation to commercial insurance products in the UK,” he says. “[Arista’s] business plans were predicated on achieving operating ratios below the market norm and would only be possible if we could deliver full cycle online facilities.”

Arista’s initial implementation was for quote and buy, but Cheeseman explains the insurer has now implemented mid-term adjustment and renewal processing capabilities.

“In terms of systems strategy, we started with a clear view that [Arista] would be able to differentiate ourselves by the speed and flexibility of our product delivery,” he says. “To do this we wanted to retain control of product development but outsource non critical IT functions. The key to our approach was finding technologies that offer true business development tools.”

Two factors made this implementation special, according to Cheeseman: speed and teamwork.

By speed, Cheeseman meant the speed of the initial development and deployment, the speed with which Arista could take on it’s own development and become self sufficient, the speed with which our customers recognized the benefits of the solutions and the options it gave them to differentiate their own offerings.

“The real beauty of edgeConnect is that because new products are now so much easier to bring online, we are able to react to market changes at a speed our competitors would struggle to match, thus pleasing our brokers and helping us to write more business,” says Cheeseman. 

One other special part of the project was the teamwork demonstrated by the solution vendors that were involved, explains Cheeseman.

“We had two software houses working on the project plus the Arista business and systems team,” he says. “In my experience two software houses normally means double the time and double the cost. But in this instance that wasn’t the case. The two teams worked well together and delivered the solution to us within three months.”

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