REVIEWER: Todd B. Calhoun, assistant deputy executive director for the New York State Insurance Fund.

BACKGROUND: The New York State Insurance Fund (NYSIF) is New York State's largest workers compensation insurance carrier, with about 25 to 30 percent of the market. NYSIF is a non- profit entity of the State of New York whose mission includes remaining a solvent carrier available for all businesses in New York. NYSIF ended the year 2000 with approximately 170,000 in-force policies and had net premiums of just over $1 billion for the year. NYSIF also writes disability benefits insurance in New York.

PLATFORMS: NYSIF is currently running BEACON version 2.2 on a Windows NT network. There are approximately 125 end users.

PROBLEM SOLVED: NYSIF was having difficulty obtaining reliable, useful and timely information to drive strategic decisions. In many cases, obtaining this information was impossible. Several disconnected legacy systems contained information about our insurance policies and claims. Certain basic business questions related to pricing policies fairly and managing claims handling could not be answered in a timely or reliable way. Obtaining custom reports from our legacy systems was a time-consuming process that diverted precious IT resources from our efforts to reengineer the agency toward a paperless environment.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: BEACON is able to accept raw data from all of our legacy systems (as well as our new Oracle-based applications) and tie that data together to provide meaningful analyses. In many cases, executives and managers no longer have to make programming requests to develop custom reports tailored to their needs. We have a tool that easily allows users at all levels to create their own analyses at a macro level and then drill down to successively lower levels of detail. A small sample of the analyses we can generate includes in-force policy count trending over the past few years, the average size of a policy and the offices writing those policies. This information on the revenue side can literally be sliced into any cuts the user would like. We can get similar, nearly unlimited, breakdowns of our claims data on the expense side as well. We can start with simple data such as how many open claims we have and with a few mouse clicks move to very sophisticated measurements of our claims operation. How quickly are each of our offices able to close claims? What are caseloads per case manager? What types of injuries result in more costly claims? We can drill all the way down to claim level detail if necessary. BEACON's capabilities extend to another level. BEACON ties policy information and claims information together to allow easy identification of mismatches in the pricing of policies (and their industries) compared to resulting claims. In other words, we are able to easily see which policies lend themselves to discounting and which policies may require surcharges. We are able to price policies fairly much more easily using this product.

STRENGTHS: BEACON's strengths are its ability to accept a large and diverse volume of data, its ability to relate data and its ease of use. The vast majority of users are easily trained in a day or less. Information can be viewed by attributes or performance measures or compared over time.

WEAKNESSES: Version 2.2 allows drilling into data only one layer at a time which can occasionally be somewhat time-consuming. Version 2.2 also has user restrictions at the field level, which has kept our user base somewhat smaller than we would like. Both of these issues will be solved when we migrate to version 3.0 in the near future.

SELECTION CRITERIA: NYSIF needed a solution that could offer the functionality we required with a minimum of internal effort in a very short time. To the best of our knowledge, there was no similar product on the market.

DELIVERABLES: BEACON produces reports, measurements and lists of data exportable
to common electronic formats such as Excel and HTML.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Millbrook has been very responsive to our needs. Their system of immediately e- mailing the particulars of any errors our users experience to their support desk has worked well. We are able to consistently get help over the phone or via e-mail from staff who know the product and the industry.

DOCUMENTATION: BEACON has typical online help and has developed for us customized lists of data captured and manuals. After a short time, our users typically do not need to reference documentation.

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