After more than 40 years, Consor moved from its offices in Ottikerstrasse to its new location: Wengistrasse 7 in Kreis 4. We took this move as an opportunity to review how we as a company can operate even more sustainably and improve processes in terms of environmental protection.
Author: Martin Nokes for the Handelszeitung of April 21, 2022 (Michael Blattner contributed substantially to this article, for which we thank him sincerely).
International companies have the need to centrally control insurance management. This requires insurance programs.
International program (IP) business is one of the most complex insurance businesses as it involves a lot of interaction between many parties. In traditional business, only clientele, insurers and brokers are involved. In IP, the participants multiply, especially internationally. So here you have the additional factor that these parties
- are located in different countries, which are subject to different local legislative and regulatory frameworks;
- are subject to different tax regimes
- speak different languages and use different currencies
- are not necessarily employees of their own company, but of partners;
- have their own systems, processes, procedures and capabilities.
It is very challenging to operate IP in an efficient, controllable and risk-appropriate manner. Accordingly, this business is prone to errors, with the errors usually not recognized until damage has occurred.
Proven approaches to improvement
Relatively quickly and without large investments, significant improvements can be achieved through consistent education and training of the employees involved. In this context, the partners must not be forgotten. The basis for the success of the training is that all those involved communicate in a single “corporate language” and that the training materials and guidelines are written in this language. Based on this, the following topics in particular should be trained:
- Concept of an IP
- Processes and procedures within IP
- Roles and expectations
- Operation of the applications and tools used
- Terminology (everyone must understand the same terms)
- International communication and collaboration.
Once the foundations have been laid by the training program, the focus can turn to processes and IT systems. In almost all insurance groups, it is the case that there is no end-to-end system for creating (quotes, policies) and administering IP. On the contrary:
People are often forced to resort to tools that work with unstructured data, such as in text, spreadsheet and e-mail programs. Where IT systems are available, local and international systems are often not integrated or consistent.
This inadequate tooling leads to friction, inefficiency, and frustration on the part of employees, brokers, and customers. Transparency and controllability of the overall process is also made more difficult, if not impossible.
It is advisable to use a single platform.
If, for example, the local contract creation in one country falters, it is difficult to determine the reason for this. If the master insurance agreement has already been issued in the country of the head office, a local delay may even have regulatory consequences, for example in the UK (Contract Certainty Code of Practice).
That there are differences between the local policies and the global agreement is in the nature of IP. It is important to know and understand them (“underwriting intent”). Without appropriate systems, however, this becomes so time-consuming that an IP can hardly be operated cost-efficiently.
A unified platform
Instead of using a multitude of unrelated, different systems, it is advisable to use a single platform for the master insurance Agreements, local policies of the IP, and regular local business. Often, much of the content, business rules and processes are across policy types are the same or show a high degree of consistency. At the same time, it is the case that product customizations are are usually driven locally, for example because of changing regulations and laws.
The adjustments should or even must also be incorporated into the local policies of the IP, and in some cases also into the master insurance agreements. The platform enables reusability in this respect and guarantees that local changes are incorporated everywhere.
are incorporated everywhere.
Further, the same platform should be used in as many countries/entities as possible to ensure pervasiveness, transparency and consistency. The possibilities for influence and
control options are also increased through the use of a consolidated platform.
IP place the highest demands on an IT platform in terms of flexibility. For example, it must be able to be used across all industries, be multilingual and multicurrency, and be able to handle international taxes. Since the print pieces – offers, policies, and so on – are very diverse and dynamic, it has become apparent that central systems for generating them do not have enough flexibility. It is therefore advantageous if the platform offers its own print engine that has these capabilities. Local processes in the countries also differ. In this respect, too, the platform must offer appropriate flexibility so that local workflows can be taken into account.
IP is complex and an extremely exciting and challenging business. Due to globalization and the increasing internationalization of even small and medium-sized companies, they have experienced great growth in recent years. Despite the larger volumes, IP will not be able to be standardized and automated in the foreseeable future, as the needs of policyholders are too individual. IPs must be able to take these individual requirements into account.
In order to still be able to operate IP successfully and efficiently, investments must therefore be made in continuous training and further education as well as in flexible IT systems that can be used across national borders.
Martin Nokes, Member of the Executive Board, Consor AG, Zurich.