Breathing life in an existing system
Imagine that you have a typical brokering system that you use to run your business. It does all the usual stuff but you want more. The technology brings new tools and features and opens new possibilities, but you are stuck and cannot experiment trying to make use of them.
This happened about 7 years ago. A client approached me asking for suggestions and ideas. He wanted much more than the current system was offering. This is how Quotes Plus (QP2) was born.
The system they had was BrokerPlus and we decided to build a new system to be an add-on, a web enabled layer that will stand above BrokerPlus.
The idea was to use BrokerPlus only for two main reasons:
- To serve as a CRM, allowing them to navigate and manage clients and policies.
- To use it as an accounting engine where they will continue to post-to-accounts to.
All the rest we had to develop within the QP2. Over the years, we have added many features and the following list is the main one:
Class specific forms
We have built many online forms that look exactly like original insurers print forms. The data collected via forms is stored in the database and is available to use.
Class specific documentation
Existing documents were in Word format, making them large and clumsy. They were slowing down the whole network when used frequently. They were also stored in a database table causing the database to inflate to enormous sizes.
We created documents in PDF format. With its small footprint, it was easy to store and send document electronically when needed.
Open programming platform
The BrokerPlus people had to support many users and this caused them to be very careful with any changes to the product. They could not change anything dramatically as this would affect other clients.
The QP2 on other hand had given us a chance to develop anything we wanted. Over the years we were able to build customised solutions for a number of specific insurance offerings or ‘schemas’ as they called them.
Our client was authorised to provide ratings for a number of classes of insurance. We developed local rating engines to automatically calculate insurance premiums.
Some insurers provided web services allowing us to send requests with data programmatically and get an immediate response with rating details. We have implemented a number of web services this way.
We have made insurance forms available on the internet so that new clients can use and submit requests for quotes. The existing clients were able to login and renew or endorse existing policies and access PDF documents for the policies. The submitted requests were listed in QP2’s “Inbox” where the user can find them and continue processing.
At some point, we were asked to separate the QP2 form BrokerPlus as much as possible. The client wanted flexibility to be able to go to another system if needed. We made the QP2 more self-efficient and less dependent on BrokerPlus. We added many tables to QP2 database and provided procedures to synchronise data between the QP2 and BrokerPlus databases.
At some point, we had to split the QP2 into two separate products: one continuing to support the broker’s retail business and another one for their new wholesale business. The wholesale business required some different approaches - having separate code was the only way to provide that.
The wholesale business needed tools for other brokers to login and process quotes on behalf of their clients. We provided them with forms where they could see a client’s quote details and access a client’s documentation.
Integration with SVU
A big brokers’ group Steadfast was developing their SVU system that on one hand allowed brokers to submit clients’ requests for quotes and on another hand allowed insurers to respond to the request and provide quotes. We have used this opportunity and developed an on-line service (INDSVU) able to respond to quote requests automatically and provide immediate quotes. It remained the only automatic quoting on SVU for a long time. This made our client a very active and responsive underwriter.
Online systems like this do the majority of work automatically without a user’s intervention. Sometimes though, it is necessary for users to be able to manually process a quote. We have integrated INDSVU with the QP2 so that a quote can be processed in both places. The quote can arrive from the SVU and, if needed, can be manually continued via QP2 and the other way round.
QP2 continues to be our free platform to react to whatever need arises and allows us to quickly react to technological changes giving our client business advantages over their competition.