Virtual Insurance Company A Reality At Canada's Markham General

Source: Concise P&C Insurance Solutions
Concise Technology Policy Management Solution Keeps Expense Ratio In Low 20% Range
It was only a matter of time before the Internet and insurance visionaries would meet, marry, and spawn personal and commercial lines products with margins that are giving new life to independent brokerages.

Two such visionaries and former Liberty Mutual executives, John McGlynn and Brian Johnston, are behind the growing success of Markham General Insurance Company, a company founded only two years ago but one that is already helping to change the insurance landscape in Canada.

Based in Ontario, Canada, Markham General currently has 22 brokers doing business in Ontario, and has plans this year of moving into Alberta, and British Columbia. With a goal of having 80 brokers nationwide by 2001, Markham General's founders are relying on trust, access, and mutual accountability to create products that sell and make their innovative business model work.

But the vision couldn't have taken flight without the technologies that support the company's virtual underwriting activities. One of those technologies is the highly flexible Front-Tier Policy Management Application designed and developed by Concise Technologies.

Concise is making the virtual operation possible with Front-Tier's ability to enter and access information from a desktop PC linked via an Internet-based virtual private network. The VPN connects to Markham's application server handling policy information, claims, and billing in real-time.

The Concise application was created using Progress Software's application development environment that allowed the company to create flexible, object-oriented software components versus being locked into a hard-coded data model. The objects govern underwriting policies as well as security rules that regulate broker access, organize workflow, and authorize transaction processing.

"The program itself has a set of objects and we worked with Concise to create additional objects that would meet our specific business requirements," says John McGlynn.

Making that customization still easier is object technology's ability to allow non-programmers to easily reconfigure software components to reflect changing business processes.

In addition to Front-Tier's flexibility, its scalability makes it possible for the solution to be used by start-ups like Markham or by larger companies who want it to work with their legacy systems on a component basis.

The Markham/Concise partnership, however, has most importantly provided a means for small brokerages to remain competitive even though they may be in remote locations and lack the budgets for high-speed telecommunications lines and sophisticated IT infrastructures of their own.

Using thin-client, desktop systems networked to Citrix application servers over the Internet, brokerages use Concise's Front-Tier application to transmit, access, and process the data they need in real-time via a standard PC and 28.8 modem.

"Because Front-Tier is based on Progress technology, building the system and its cost of ownership are also much less expensive," says Concise's Mark Burt, director of Sales/ Marketing. "The open architecture and component based design means you can grow the application in any insurance environment and add new technology moving forward. "For example, we're currently adding wireless applications that will allow agents and claims adjusters in the field to enter customer information, quotes and receive policy data from the system."

"There is no question that Concise offers a superior product and should be the benchmark for future insurance systems."
Brian G. Johnston – Chairman & CEO, Markham General Insurance Company

Concise P&C Insurance Solutions , 55 City Centre Drive, Suite 300, Mississauga, ON L5B1M3. Tel: 877-777-8437; Fax: 1-905-275-6514.