After focusing on automating its producer-facing front end and internal middle-office underwriting processes, Richmond, Va.-based Genworth U.S. Life Insurance Companies began hearing calls for improvements to back-end policy delivery. Late in 2010, during a distribution conference, producers voiced frustration with carrier-specific electronic delivery offerings. "A flexible multi-carrier platform was very important to them," recalls Mike Shadler, CIO for Genworth U.S. Life. "That sparked us to investigate a solution."
[For more on what distributors want from carriers, read Agency Management Systems vs. Carrier Portals: The Battle for Insurance Agents' Desktops .]
For the subsidiary of Genworth Financial ($113 billion in total assets) the challenge wasn't just selecting and implementing a technology. Instead, the insurer needed a solution that could integrate tightly with existing systems and processes. "We'd put significant resources into developing a custom case management and underwriting system," explains Shadler. "This included automated workflows."
Further, Genworth desired a system that went beyond delivering policy documents as Adobe .pdf files for printing out and signing. "What we really wanted was a sophisticated settlement platform that captured information dynamically and involved all aspects of the process, including workflows that would go to the agent and to the consumer," comments Shadler. "That's a big difference from simple document e-delivery."
To determine the best technology option, Genworth approached multi-carrier application developers and service providers during the spring of 2011. Of them, Aplifi (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) stood out. "At the time, there were a lot of promises in vendor marketing literature," Shadler says. "Aplifi was upfront about being in the process of developing a solution, but they wanted a partner to help them build it."
"They also showed the most flexibility with respect to integrating with our internal systems and building a settlement process -- not just document e-delivery -- while still maintaining the independence of providing a multi-carrier solution," he adds. "That's what we were looking for."
With Aplifi onboard by the summer of 2011, both the insurer and the vendor formed deployment teams. Then, the build process ran from October 2011 through April 2012. To start, Genworth installed two new Linux servers and leveraged Red Hat's (Raleigh, N.C.) JBoss for tagging. "The rest of the solution utilized existing hardware and software," says Shadler.
In May 2012 Genworth kicked off a pilot that also served as a "controlled rollout to a select group of six distribution partners," Shadler says. "In addition to their technology abilities and detail-orientation, we selected partners based on their history of providing honest and candid feedback."
By late February 2013 the new Web-based platform, now dubbed PolicyBox, officially launched. "Other than the complexity of building an e-settlement process, there were no significant challenges because we conducted the controlled rollout," Shadler recounts.
"Any issues that arose were caught and managed very tightly, quickly and interactively in conjunction with our pilot partners, Aplifi and our internal teams," he adds.
Since then, Genworth has fielded inquiries from more than 100 agencies. "We've have already had several of our agencies sign up," Shadler reports. "The interest level is much higher than expected from a mix of traditional BGAs [brokerage general agents], IMO [independent marketing organizations], and direct marketers."
Best of all, the efficiencies are out of the park. "Using PolicyBox reduces delivery cycle times from about 25 days to an average of eight days and, in some cases, a matter of hours," Shadler asserts.
That's a whopping 70% reduction, on average, in new policy cycle times. "And, since approximately 85% of our new life policies can be settled electronically, the affect can be dramatic," says Shadler.
Given such success, Genworth is eyeing opportunities enterprise-wide. "As a corporation, we're focused on streamlining," says Shadler. "So, we're exploring the expansion of electronic settlement to our other lines of business."
"In the future," he continues, "if our distribution partners show an interest in another multi-carrier platform, now we have a benchmark for where to start."
Company: Genworth U.S. Life Insurance Companies (Subsidiary of Genworth Financial, Richmond, Va.; $113 billion in total assets).
Lines Of Business: Life and long-term care.
Vendor/Technology: Aplifi PolicyBox electronic settlement platform.
Challenge: Provide distribution partners with electronic policy delivery.
Anne Rawland Gabriel is a technology writer and marketing communications consultant based in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area. Among other projects, she's a regular contributor to UBM Tech's Bank Systems & Technology, Insurance & Technology and Wall Street & Technology ... View Full Bio