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Data Mastery Drives Access Insurance's 'Instant Access' Business Technology Platform

Access Insurance Holdings leverages real-time data in its Instant Access technology platform to inform business strategy, provide a superior customer experience and lower operational costs.

Michael McMenamin, CEO and president of Access Insurance Holdings ($177.8 million in 2009 written premium), says his company runs on data. To get the most value out of its data, the Atlanta-based writer of specialty private passenger auto insurance has built the Instant Access technology platform, which comprises data verification, integration of external vendor data, rating, payment processing, policy issuance and document creation.

According to McMenamin, the platform is designed to improve the customer experience and boost company financials by increasing revenue and decreasing operational costs. Instant Access executes all business rules and processes needed to provide a quote and bind a policy and has resulted in the automated processing of 97 percent of the carrier's new business submissions, he reports. The solution rates policies in real time and verifies external information, such as VIN and MVR. New business transactions that previously took as much as 48 hours to process are now bound within minutes within Instant Access, notes McMenamin, who says the system equips producers with accurate rates at the time of sale, ensures the rate integrity of original quotes, and reduces rate changes due to missing or miskeyed information.

Integrated with Access Insurance's in-house policy administration system, Instant Access is built on Microsoft .NET. It leverages Microsoft BizTalk data orchestration technology and Oracle Insbridge rating technology, as well as the Documaker dynamic publishing platform. Since implementing Instant Access in 2009, the carrier has increased its appointed independent producers by 43 percent, more than doubled the states it operates in, and increased its market share by 4.6 percent and its in-force policies from 140,185 to more than 270,000. McMenamin discusses with I&T executive editor Anthony O'Donnell how Access uses data for competitive advantage.

I&T: How important is data strategy to Access Insurance for enabling competitive strategy?

McMenamin: While Access is an insurance company, we look more like a technology shop with more than 60 full-time IT employees, half of whom are engaged in full-time development. Data drives Access. Each morning, all department leaders have metrics that tie daily, weekly and monthly goals to quarterly and yearly goals. Without data, we would be operating blindly and waiting on quarter- and year-end results. By this time, it would be too late to shift an unfavorable trend.

I&T: What has Access done to ensure data quality across the enterprise?

McMenamin: We have implemented the real-time monitoring and alerting of data trends, which allows us look at data daily and to identify patterns that may affect our business. We use data analytics to identify the impact of a release of a new product or enhancement. Additionally, we have reengineered our new business to ensure that clean data is coming in from the beginning.

I&T: How do you approach data governance?

McMenamin: We would describe our approach to data governance as industry-leading. Our customers are highly transactional -- canceling, reinstating and constantly endorsing their policyies. Old world insurance is unable to keep up with multiple transactions per policy. Therefore, we recognized the need for a highly automated technological system in this niche.

I&T: What challenges have you faced in organizing your data?

McMenamin: As we provided visibility into the data for reporting, we faced the challenge of how not to disrupt our business. And due to our multistate expansion, we had to quickly collect, analyze and use our data, while ensuring its integrity and availability, which ultimately led to Instant Access.

I&T: What is the importance of good data to the success of Instant Access?

McMenamin: Good data is the whole premise of Instant Access, which is to be accurate and consistent. If you want to execute consistent business rules you have to have consistent data.

I&T: How would you say Access is competing on the strength of its data?

McMenamin: We are able to compile business metrics on a daily basis. Our entire business operates on real-time data and most competitors operate on month-end or quarterly numbers. This allows us to instantly react to a trend before the business day has even started. At Access, the availability of real-time business metrics is a strategic advantage.

Anthony O'Donnell has covered technology in the insurance industry since 2000, when he joined the editorial staff of Insurance & Technology. As an editor and reporter for I&T and the InformationWeek Financial Services of TechWeb he has written on all areas of information ... View Full Bio

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