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Attendance Lags, But Internet Techs Debut At LOMA Systems Forum

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Hollywood, Fl.

While attendance at this years LOMA Systems Forum held April 7-10 was markedly down, several vendors made waves in this oceanside locale by announcing new technology initiatives that leverage the benefits of the Internet.

A LOMA staffer reported that the official attendance for the 2002 forum was 650, down from 850 a year ago. Several disappointed exhibitors, however, pegged the crowd at about half of the 2001 level, based on the light traffic they saw on the exhibit floor.

Meanwhile, InSystems, based in Markham, Ontario, Canada, debuted InSystems eXterity, an insurance-specific portal that offers a portal server plus a suite of insurance application “modules.” The modules, says InSystems, can be configured to create customer self-service, as well as agent-broker portals, as well as other insurance-related portals.

A portal, the company explains, is a personalized Web site built on a common set of services that enable firms to connect employees, customers, partners and suppliers to corporate computing resources from any Internet-capable device.

According to Andrew Jackson, chief marketing officer and general manager of InSystems newly-created eXterity Division, the new portal software is aimed at group and life insurance carriers. The carriers, in turn, can develop and provide portal capabilities to agents and brokers, as well as support customer self-service.

InSystems says eXterity is designed for carriers who want to provide such services to their customers, agents, brokers, third party administrators and regulators. “InSystems eXterity enables faster, less expensive development, deployment and maintenance of custom-built portals, providing insurance carriers with greater business agility,” the company notes.

Jackson characterizes the new software as a “build your own portal” application. He also emphasizes that while some training may be required for IT departments of companies that use the software, once that is done, users will be able to work with the application “coming out of the box. Once its implemented, you dont have to be an IT person to use or modify it,” he observes. “If you can personalize a My Yahoo! page, you can configure an eXterity application module.”

InSystems says there are currently more than 40 eXterity application modules available. These include such critical functions as enrollment, application, claims status and filing status.

According to Jackson, the first implementation of eXterity at Canada Life “took less than six months.” For future implementations, “we expect to shorten that to three months,” he notes, “its highly dependent on a carriers existing systems. Its [a systems] integration, like any IT project.”

Jackson says the new software requires a Web server or application server. “We typically see IBM WebSphere as the platform.”

Pricing for eXterity is done on a per-CPU basis for servers, and a per-module basis for users, says Jackson. A basic implementation would start at less than $200,000, while a typical implementation would run “between $500,000 and $1 million.”

Jackson emphasizes that the portal software is “incremental,” allowing companies to “start small and add over time.”

A Web module that enables 24-hour-a-day, seven-days-a-week access to producers, policyholders and home office personnel was introduced by the Genelco Software Solutions division of Liberty Insurance Services Corporation.

According to Greenville, S.C.-based Genelco, the new integrated front end to the companys life administration system provides access to policy information, forms and other resources and allows for policy transactions. The Web module “enhances the CRM capabilities for life operations” and is integrated with Genelco Life+, a life, health and annuity back office administration software application.

The new module is designed for “life insurance carriers who want to integrate e-commerce into their business processes in an affordable manner while introducing products to market quickly,” says Michael S. Molinar, vice president of Genelco.

Genelco says the Web module “allows seamless and authorized change and transaction requests to policies through its 24/7 access to the most current data available from the back-office processing portion of the application.”

The module uses IBM WebSphere, IBM HTTP Server and IBM MQSeries, says Genelco. It supports DB2 and Microsoft SQL database servers.

Genelco says the Web module includes a “client-centric” search capability. Once access is granted to a user, screen views are automatically formatted based on user type. For example, while customers may view policies, agents may be directed to a policy screen search.

Also offered is a resource center, “a convenient online source of information [that] reduces the amount of packaging and mailing required of agents and carriers,” says Genelco.

Pricing information was not available.

Genelco also announced version 3.1 of Genelco GroupWeb, the companys Internet portal for group health processing. The new version offers online enrollment, inquiry, claims tracking and claims submission for employers, employees and providers.

The company says that group benefit administrators, medical service providers and insured individuals or plan participants can access information about eligibility, enrollment, claim status, billing and payment history via the updated portal. Service providers can submit claims electronically through Genelco GroupWeb and track the status of the claims they submit.

GroupWeb requires only a Web browser that can access administration systems, says Genelco. The company recommends Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.5.

In other Internet technology news from LOMA, e-Nable and NaviSys, Inc. announced they would offer integrated browser-based solutions “that streamline the new business process of life insurers.”

Westwood, Mass.-based e-Nable is a provider of data aggregation and underwriting support systems to the North American life insurance industry, while NaviSys, based in Edison, N.J., provides strategic counsel and platform-neutral enterprise software for life insurers and annuity companies.

“Working together, we can provide straight-through processes that permit our carriers to bring new products to market sooner and to optimize the support they give their distribution channels,” states Mike Silva, senior vice president of business development at e-Nable.

Under the alliance, life insurers will have access to the offerings of both companies, says e-Nable. “Because the solutions will be pre-integrated through XML, the cost and time of implementation will be greatly reduced,” the company notes.

Reproduced from National Underwriter Life & Health/Financial Services Edition, April 22, 2002. Copyright 2002 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.