Despite many experts and carriers foreseeing a flattening of IT spending by insurers in 2009, property/casualty carriers continue to seek new ways to creatively deliver solutions to their customers. This is the message from Fiserv Insurance Solutions, West Des Moines, Iowa, which, in July 2008, surveyed IT leaders at P&C carriers in the United States.
The goal of the survey was to discover industry trends for 2008 and early 2009. Nineteen questions - grouped to uncover business priorities, appetite for newer technology, direction the IT department is evolving toward and demographic information - were asked to track insurers' interests, and to gauge the strategic direction of the industry.
According to the results, the main driver continues to be a move toward technology that directly supports the business community's need to deliver value. Leading themes included business requirements for access for distribution channels, accurate pricing of risk and flexible billing options.
When companies were asked to identify their next three large-scale projects, policy administration or service came out on top - rising from 69 percent in 2006, to 75 percent in 2007 and 87 percent in 2008. Claims projects were a distant second at 44 percent, up slightly from 42 percent in 2007 and 37.5 percent in 2006. Billing and agency interface/comparative rating tied for third at 39 percent, which represents a decrease from 67 percent last year, and a slight decrease from the 42 percent for billing.
IT projects in 2008 dovetailed with insurers' top business needs. Enhancing overall administrative efficiency (65 percent) and access for distribution channels (52 percent) were most frequently cited, while accurate pricing of risk and flexible billing options tied as the third top business need at 44 percent each.
In addition, respondents identified straight-through processing and predictive analytics as "very important" technologies for the participating companies' business drivers. Electronic bill presentment and payment technology, workflow integration and improved claim management were identified as "important," as well as less expensive operating platforms and server virtualization.
The most important technologies, according to carriers, were service-oriented architecture/service integration (55 percent). Business process management (50 percent) outranked data accessibility layer technology (32 percent) in importance, which is a reversal of their ranks in last year's survey. Java and .NET tied for third in importance at 23 percent.
This article was originally published in Insurance Networking News.
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