Paul Ayoub thinks of himself as not just a CIO but specifically as an insurance CIO. He's spent 28 of his 31 years in IT in the insurance industry, and his recent appointment at Sarasota, Fla.-based regional P&C carrier FCCI (about $472.8 million in 2011 direct written premium) is his fourth CIO role at a P&C company. Most recently CIO of Hastings Mutual, Ayoub specializes in enhancing the partnership between IT and the business.
"My perspective is that IT is here for only one reason: to support the business — we are business people first who are skilled in technology," Ayoub says. "We're not just order takers; we're also consultants and advisers who work as strategic partners with the business."
Ayoub arrived at FCCI in March 2012 with the task of supporting aggressive company growth objectives. The company has plans to double direct written premium and the number of states in which the carrier does business by 2020.
According to Ayoub, his immediate focus will be on enhancing FCCI's agent-facing capabilities to support agent ease-of-doing-business. "This not only includes upload capabilities but also online quoting of commercial lines business," he reports.
Arming Independent Agents
The carrier plans to put more tools in independent agents' hands through initiatives such as the company's web-based platform FCCI Connect. The new platform will work with agency management systems to give FCCI agents the means to upload client data into one single system for insurance policy rating, quoting and issuance, according to Ayoub.
Also on Ayoub's agenda is evaluating policy administration system options to enhance the insurer's ability to turn around bindable quotes and issue policies more quickly. Ayoub states that FCCI has evaluated numerous vendor packages and has identified a small group of finalists.
"Our goal is to improve internal efficiency for the benefit of our agents so that they can meet the needs of their customers in a more timely fashion and with high quality."
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In addition, state expansion represents an important focus for the application of new IT capabilities, Ayoub relates. FCCI recently expanded into Virginia and Maryland and now provides agribusiness/farmowners, automobile, crime, general liability, inland marine, property, commercial and contract surety, umbrella, and workers' compensation insurance coverage to more than 23,000 business insurance customers in 15 states. "We intend to be writing business in Texas by the fourth quarter of 2012," Ayoub adds. "Other states will follow in 2013."
FCCI's IT organization will also be working on predictive analytics and the expansion of its business intelligence capabilities, Ayoub reports. "We're also continuing to expand our claims system functionality in support of growth plans," he says.
Ayoub describes FCCI's technology team as strong in terms of both technical acumen and business knowledge. "The partnership between IT and the business is solid and getting better every day," he remarks. "Most important, as I've seen from my short time with the company, is the commitment the team makes for the good of the entire organization."
That type of dedication reflects the larger ethos of the company, Ayoub insists. "The culture of FCCI is one that recognizes the contributions of its people, cares about them personally and is a collaborative work environment," he asserts. "People are focused on results but also like to have fun and celebrate their successes."