Nationale Suisse Belgium is a subsidiary of international Swiss insurance group Nationale Suisse. In Belgium, it has a network of around 450 active credit brokers selling its life insurance products and 1,800 brokers selling its non-life products. To maintain competitive advantage, the insurer needed to modernise the way it managed its broker network and automate manual and paper-based processes.
Personal lines insurance is a competitive business—particularly in markets such as Belgium where broker networks and agents handle most of the customer acquisition process. But Nationale Suisse Belgium has established itself as an innovative and reliable provider with a wide range of products—from travel to income protection insurance.
Its life insurance products were supported by technology that was 30 years old, and although Nationale Suisse Belgium had managed to establish and maintain a market-leading position for these products, it began to find itself limited in the service it could offer. Brokers were demanding simple online interaction, with a move away from paper-based forms and manual underwriting processes that could lead to processing delays and risk of error. In addition, the company wanted a way to capture and share the organisational expertise among its staff.
Jean-Claude Siebenaler, Chief Operating Officer at Nationale Suisse Belgium, says: “With our existing IT environment, we couldn’t give our brokers electronic access to information, so we had to use paper forms and manual data entry.
“Our system had no product engine, and even when we could make changes to it, we found it difficult to find people with skills in the relevant development language. It was also expensive to support, and we couldn’t provide our brokers with innovative products and services.”
Nationale Suisse Belgium needed a flexible interface for brokers and a system for administering insurance-linked mortgages and loans. Any new system would have to support integration with Belgium’s national electronic identification infrastructure, link with other internal systems and credit institutions, and support new products over time.Solution
Nationale Suisse Belgium contacted Elips, a Microsoft partner that provides IT consulting and software development to pension funds and life insurance companies across Europe.
It suggested Life Office, a software suite that provides the basis for reducing operational costs and increasing broker and customer satisfaction. Life Office supports the complete life cycle of insurance and pension products—from offers prepared through the Web by brokers and agents, to the liquidations of expiring policies with related financial postings in accounting systems.
Life Office provides modules for:
- Product and policy administration
- Finance administration
- Unit administration for unit-linked policies
- A smart client/Web portal
- A workflow engine
- A reporting database
Life Office was developed using the Microsoft .NET Framework and is based on an open multilayer architecture using Microsoft service-oriented architecture (SOA) recommendations. Because the software comprises separate data, logic, and presentation layers, independent modules can be easily integrated using Web services.
The ease of adding individual modules also offers the possibility of phasing projects and reducing implementation risk.
The Life Office broker-facing application for offers and proposals is deployed as an XAML client using Windows Presentation Foundation and the Microsoft Silverlight browser plug-in. Brokers benefit from a rich user experience as well as reliable performance and offline availability. This helps them find the right product information to present to clients and simplifies the sales process.
Within Nationale Suisse Belgium, workflow and custom data can be defined through metadata to implement standard procedures or one-off screens, documents, and reports to fit the insurer’s specific needs. Elips is also working on incorporating Windows Workflow Foundation in a future release of the software so that business users can graphically manage workflows.Benefits
Nationale Suisse Belgium now has a flexible distribution environment that makes it easy to modify or create new products, and reflects industry best practice in underwriting and policy administration.
“With Life Office, we can manage all our interactions with brokers in minutes as opposed to days of printing, signing, and re-entering data,” says Siebenaler. “And we can delegate to the brokers a lot of the processes that we used to do ourselves.”
Processing speed dramatically improved. Brokers distributing Nationale Suisse Belgium products no longer need to print forms, get them signed, scan them, and send them for checking. All processes—from preparing offers to signing contracts—are now entirely electronic and can be completed in minutes. There is no paper flow between the customer, broker, and Nationale Suisse Belgium. “Before, all of our policy endorsements had to be completed manually, for example. Actuaries took away data and made calculations externally. This data then had to be re-entered into our system. Now, the entire process is handled within the system,” says Siebenaler.
New products brought to market within weeks. Previously, it would take months for Nationale Suisse Belgium to create a product and make it available through its broker network. Now, it can be done in less than a month, including all data, checks, validation rules, screen lay-outs and documents associated with the product. “Thanks to Elips and Life Office, Nationale Suisse Belgium is in a better position to react to customer and broker demand,” says Siebenaler.
Increased productivity and quality processes. Even in the insurer’s complex multi-distribution environment, role-based access rights permit all parties involved in the life cycle of policy processes to interact through the central database in a secure and transparent way. As a result, customers, intermediaries, and the Nationale Suisse Belgium employees have access to up-to-date and accurate information.
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