Companies always are looking for ways to differentiate their sales and illustration software in the marketplace, and as a result, products are becoming increasingly sophisticated.
“We want to give you a tool where you can tell your story about why your product is valuable to the marketplace,” says Steven Leigh, vice president of sales marketing for Insurance Technologies, Colorado Springs, Colo. He says the companys sales and illustration software, Foresight, is similar to a calculator.
For example, when an insurance carrier rolls out a new variable life product or annuity, it likes to be able to show the client a “historical”or how much money the client would have accrued had he or she invested a certain amount in the product a certain number of years ago, Leigh says.
The software also shows “hypotheticals”calculations that illustrate what a particular investment would be worth in the future, he adds.
The illustration software can be deployed either on the Web or through a disk, Leigh says. Each is popular with different types of rep, he notes.
“Some reps are saying I dont want anything but network, others say I dont want the Internet,” Leigh says.
Insurance Technologies currently is preparing to roll out its latest version of the software, Mobility, which encompasses all platforms, he says.
Foresight allows all insurance products a carrier sells to be put on one platform, says Leigh. Insurance Technologies charges a one-time license fee for its life products of about $150,000-$500,000, with an annual maintenance charge of some percentage of that original number, usually about 20%.
There also are implementation costs that can run between $50,000 and $200,000 per product, he adds.
There are hosting costs as well, Leigh says. They could range between $5,000 and $7,000 a month.
eWizard, by Group Insurance Services Inc., Chattanooga, Tenn., is a “complete client management system,” according to Mary Thompson, a spokeswoman for BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, which uses the software.
Originally it was designed for health plans.
eWizard “compiles and organizes all of the information you need to assess whats in the sales pipeline, analyze your sales efforts and refine your sales strategy,” Thompson says.
The product features an online quoting system called BlueWizard. A user enters a clients information once and can generate as many quote configurations as he or she wants without having to rekey client data, she explains.
“Keep track of the options you present and, when a choice is made, simply e-mail the appropriate electronic application back to your sales office,” Thompson says. “Its that easy. Plus, BlueWizard is completely integrated with your companys most current product and pricing information for the most accurate quotes available.”
On the road, eWizard provides a real-time link to a users sales database from most computers with Internet access, she says.
“And, after working offline, eWizard synchronizes with information you enter in with your existing database master,” Thompson notes. “eWizards comprehensive account tracking capabilities help you strengthen support relationships and provide outstanding customer service.”
Among the key benefits of the product are that it manages daily activities based on overall sales strategy; uses online rate calculators; generates quotes and proposals using the most current pricing and product specifications with BlueWizard; accesses the companys white papers, FAQs, marketing materials and other resources; integrates with Microsoft Outlook; customizes the system automatically to trigger literature fulfillment, follow-up calls and daily task reminders; summons detailed account histories; retrieves enrollment applications and more, Thompson says.
Brokers and agents from small to large firms selling life, health or property coverage, can benefit from eWizard, she adds. Currently, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, Chattanooga, has 600 brokers using the software.
Pricing information was not provided.
Coss Development Corp., Milwaukee, sells a number of products for the life insurance and financial services industries, says Chief Marketing Officer Dennis Raniewicz.
Insurers using the Coss illustration productsIRIS (for life insurance) and Wealth Illustrator (for annuities)–include life brokerages, multiline insurance companies, those specializing in either annuities (both variable and fixed) or life insurance (both variable and fixed), he says.
Coss currently provides life and/or annuity illustration point-of-sale systems to more than 50 carriers throughout the U.S., he notes.
The illustration products user interface is tailored to each insurers marketing channels to accommodate a range of user needs, Raniewicz says. Some Coss partners offer different interfacesincluding a highly detailed interface for career life agents and a simpler, quick-to-use interface for brokers, bankers and others who prefer a more quote-based, transactional experience, he notes.
Custom illustration software is Coss flagship product. End users of Coss illustrations are diverse: traditional one-company and independent insurance agents, brokers, bankers and financial planners, the company says.
IRIS is a customized illustration system for the hypothetical and historical presentation of life insurance. Coss has developed systems for virtually every type of life product including variable universal life, fixed UL, survivorship, whole life, par and nonpar and term, Raniewicz says.
Wealth Illustrator is a customized, integrated new business illustration and acquisition system that spans the entire fixed and variable annuity sales process, he says.
Wealth Illustrator includes such features as asset allocation and configuration methods to handle unbundled annuities. With either IRIS or Wealth Illustrator, users can illustrate a variety of client scenarios, produce and e-mail compliant illustrations, and submit their new business securely online, Raniewicz states.
Coss illustration systems allow producers to enter data a single time, and then use it to run product comparisons and various scenarios for their clients, he says. Advanced marketing concepts are also a feature of the IRIS system, Raniewicz adds. Retirement planning, wealth accumulation and other needs analysis concepts are featured in Wealth Illustrator.
Both systems also include fillable electronic forms, Coss variable product illustrations for annuities (Wealth Illustrator), allowing for completely unbundled configurations, Raniewicz says. Illustrations include a policy configuration page that lists the selected features and their respective mortality and expenses, if applicable.
The policy configuration feature also can be designed to encompass investment planning with disciplined investment strategies, including dollar cost averaging, interest sweeps, systematic transfer options, strategic asset allocation, tactical asset allocation and sector rotation, he says.
With regard to either IRIS or Wealth Illustrator, Coss offers its customers a full set of co-development tools, Raniewicz says. These tools allow the carrier to work with Coss in a true co-development relationship.
The customer can use these tools to modify Coss user interface, calculation engine and output. New insurance products can be added to the system. Existing products can be modified. The co-development tools allow the customer staff to control the day-to-day maintenance and evolution of the system, he notes.
The tools serve the needs of product modeling and reduce the time to market with regard to the introduction of new products and product enhancements, says Raniewicz. The customer company may rely on Coss and/or its own staff to the extent it desires for day-to-day development, maintenance and support of each system.
Coss declined to provide product and licensing costs.
Novinsoft, Port Perry, Ontario, now provides services as an application services provider (ASP) through the Novinsoft Insurance Portal, says spokesman Neil Menear.
This is a Web-based, online, subscription service that gives individual life and health distributors the ability to create multi-carrier universal life illustrations, sales concepts integrated with insurance carrier UL illustration calculation engines, needs analyses, client management, forms and more, he says.
There is only one Web site to log on to, and there is no need to install numerous CDs or to go to various Web sites, Menear says. There is one interface and one input. A user inputs data only once for multiple carrier UL illustrations and sales concepts.
Data flows between all participating insurance carrier illustration calculation engines, so there is no need to enter any data more than once, he explains.
Novinsoft also sells in-force illustration systems.
“We have provided our clients with combined, dual-purpose new business/in-force calculation engines,” Menear says. “The architecture is such that new business calculations are a subset of in-force. Therefore, we can provide in-force illustration Systems with all the in-force transactions required plus all the features of a new business system.
“This saves our clients time and money, as we only have to program calculation logic once for both systems; there is only one calculation engine to maintain, therefore programming and testing are significantly reduced,” he continues. “If presented right, it also means that brokers can use an in-force illustration to increase sales.”
If a new business and in-force illustration system initially are developed with this architecture, the incremental cost to have both is about 40%, Menear says. Otherwise, the cost depends on a number of factors.
Some upgrades available this year are multi-scenario illustrations ($5,000-$7,000 per product group), Web Install-On-Demand ($20,000), Web Smart Update ($20,000), PDF encryption (no charge). All these prices are in Canadian dollars.
Novinsofts Life and Annuity Proposal System is an agent illustration system for all types of life insurance and annuities, says Menear.
Software is customized in accordance with product definition, underwriting, marketing and NAIC state-specific requirements, he states. Some of the optional features include: an integrated needs analysis tool, online forms and applications, and slide-show presentations. Automatic update of interest rates via the Internet frees the user and the home office from the pitfalls of manual updates, Menear says.
The company declined to provide pricing information.
Solcorp, Mississauga, Ontario, sells Product Express, a calculation engine that integrates with policy administration and front-end systems, says Alex Sweeny, vice president, strategic business development.
The selling point for Product Express is that it consolidates redundant work, Sweeny says. Because there is a consistent set of rules, the product can be used by actuaries, IT staff and other product design professionals to build prototypes quickly, he asserts.
“Product Express is designed to fully support all the calculations required for any risk- and protection-based financial product,” Sweeny says.
“The insurers themselves start to realize benefits by removing redundant calculation. That saves time and money,” he says. The carriers “end up with a core competency around product implementation, you create reduced time and cost when it comes time to develop new products, and the whole product implementation takes less time when you dont have to do it scattered across business areas.”
The license and implementation cost is about 25% of the payback a carrier would get one year from launching the product, Sweeny notes.
“A four-to-one advantage is a good number,” he adds.
Reproduced from National Underwriter Life & Health/Financial Services Edition, November 21, 2003. Copyright 2003 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.