Product systems do not operate in a vacuum, always working together with specialized solutions that perform selected business functions in insurance companies.
Just when it seemed that the insurance software solution is about to become an all-round one, servicing insurance companies end-to-end, it became apparent instead that making it happen is quite an uphill battle. In spite of a new approach to the system’s development and a number of its functional modules, the attempts to eliminate the other, "external" software would fall through again and again. A certain business area always remained, special or different enough not to be permanently – and sensibly – incorporated into the product system.
Regardless of business models and implementation decisions, a product system always works together with other systems.
"External" solutions are usually non-insurance business systems, or specialist industry tools. The main factor influencing the number of these software for insurance companies is the complexity of the product system itself. The commercially available product systems differ in the number and scope of modules. Another challenge are design decisions which may limit the scope of any implementation when it comes to selected functional modules. Such decisions may serve to cut down on the implementation cost, but may also be related to the fact that a company is satisfied with the previously used insurance software and simply does not plan to replace it, aiming to use it in parallel with a new product system being deployed. Claims adjustment or sales structure management systems may qualify as this kind of software. Newly established insurance companies decide to implement the full range of product systems by default. For companies operating on the market for some time, decisions on the scope of implementing new systems are usually more complex.
Regardless of business models and implementation decisions, a product system always works together with other systems. This cooperation is called integration. It involves the design and maintenance of data exchange between different systems. A proper environment of specialist systems always exists around the main product system in order for an insurance company to function properly. The number and extent of these depend on the type of business, operating model, and, as mentioned earlier, the scope of the product system implementation. Cooperation with the accounting system is always needed in order to provide the continuity of financial transfers (collections, commission payments, compensations, benefits) and bookkeeping account balances.
Outside of the product system, analytic solutions, data warehouses and reporting tools are usually built. In short, it all revolves around reporting which is based on data collected in the system’s repository. It also happens that insurance software works with specialized insurance tools, such as commission, claims adjustment or reinsurance systems. This happens when their corresponding modules are not contained in the product system, or their implementation is scrapped. Another "external" tools cooperating with product systems are expert systems such as vehicle valuation tools, contribution calculators, or tools providing communication with claims databases or economic information bureaus.
Changes in the field of information access affecting the development of numerous insurance distribution channels, or the emergence of the internet itself had created a number of sales platforms working online. This refers mainly to direct sales (including online insurance accounts), sales and service portals that support salespersons and brokers (also in the bancassurance model) as well as insurance comparison sites. The openness to external claims adjustment platforms also gained much significance. The better all of these solutions cooperate with the main database of policies and clients as well as individual modules of the product system, the better they work. As one can easily imagine, the access to the system, ease of its integration with other ones and high efficiency of its maintenance all have a great impact on the course of critical business processes at the interface between insurance companies, their clients and cooperating brokers or partners.
Mariusz Janczewski, Senior Insurance Consultant, Comarch