ABC of insurance IT solutions
An IT system is a complex computer program or a set of interacting programs designed to perform specific functions. Here, we will focus on systems responsible for collecting, processing and sharing insurance data.
Such systems carry a specific real-world information, such as e.g., policy data, contact information of the insured, risks covered, premiums collected and claims paid.
Insurance data is any information that insurers have gathered plus the one that’s still out there and can be obtained for business purposes.
The insurance realm can be described with a “digital language” using data whose regular structure allows it to be processed by a computer. As a result, it is possible to execute a number of tasks quickly. Let’s think about quarterly sales results calculated for a given business line in a particular region without the use of a computer system. This is doable but no one has been doing it for years. So, what constitutes a computer system?
Most of us would think at this point about our own computer (formerly PC, now a portable notebook, tablet or smartphone). But we must keep in mind that more powerful computers with broader capabilities, i.e. servers, are at play here. Their main task is to store databases and programs and share them with a large number of users.
PCs, as their name implies, are personal - we usually use them on our own, while servers are used by many people at once. The servers reside in server rooms or data centers – and are accessed via a local network or the internet. We often do not know their whereabouts. This is hardware, and without it –no program can be run.
Windows, Linux, iOS, Android…these are operating systems the hardware relies upon. Those systems initiate and control computer operations and consist of numerous “smaller” programs “animating” the computer and allowing us to work with it.
Utility software is a family of programs that allow us to run our computers even though we don’t even know it’s there. An example: device drivers or middleware tools. Owing to them our computers can work with external devices such as printers and network cards. Another example: database management system. A database provides us with a complete set of functions that allow us to easily collect, search and browse data. Most insurance employees work with databases every day.
The term “business software”, or “application software” refers to programs that we use to perform specific tasks. It includes office software (word processing, spreadsheets), finance and accounting systems, or payroll applications. Finally, there are systems to support information and decision-making processes in insurance companies, including, among others:
- new business
- sales and underwriting
- policy administration
- settlements and financial-accounting services
- sales network management and remuneration
- claims adjustment
- reporting and analyses
- investment activities
- enterprise content management and workflow
Mariusz Janczewski, Senior Insurance Consultant, Comarch