About Rob McIsaac

Rob McIsaac is a Senior Vice President at Novarica with expertise in IT leadership and transformation. Prior to joining Novarica, he served in a series of senior technology management positions including leading the Business Transformation Office at Nationwide Insurance and as the CIO for First Citizens Bank. Rob spent the majority of his career at Guardian Life, where he was the Divisional CIO responsible for annuity, distribution and broker dealer operations and at Prudential Insurance. Rob holds a BA in Economics from Montclair State University, an MBA in Information Systems from Seton Hall University and has received a number of business and technical designations including FLMI and LLIF. He can be reached directly at rmcisaac@novarica.com.

Public Data Sources and Fraud Detection

As the world has gone ever more digital, the opportunities to create new products, new services, and better customer experiences have moved forward aggressively. An unfortunate consequence of the increasingly digitized experience, however, has been growth in fraud which can approach carriers from a variety of directions. Insurers are not alone in facing this, of…

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Group Benefits Insurers Focusing on Operations Efficiency and Distribution

Group benefits insurers face continuous pressure on margins, while true sales growth remains challenging. This, in combination with the price sensitivity of plan sponsors, makes operations efficiency and improved marketing across multiple channels key drivers pushing insurers towards improved digital capabilities. Carriers are seeking modern systems that can better support rapid product development and self-service…

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Auto Aware

Today, across many industries, there’s a growing awareness of the potential impact of automation on routine business operations. The general concept is attractive; the use of technology to automate activities can create benefits of higher quality work that is both more predictable and less costly than corresponding human-based “manual” activities. Of course, this isn’t necessarily…

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For Insurance, Innovation Bells Are Ringing Louder

Across the insurance industry, carriers are increasingly aware of both changes in market dynamics and the shifts in opportunity (and risk) that technology advances bring. For many, this is a notable challenge. Long tail liabilities and a general aversion to risk, combined with corporate cultures that can create notable headwinds to change, can make internal…

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DOL Rule Changes for Disability Insurance

Throughout 2017 and into the New Year, one of the great areas for discussion for many carriers was the potential impact of the new DOL Fiduciary Rules. As drafted by the prior Administration in Washington, these rules had the potential to significantly impact wide swaths of the annuities/retirement business for carriers and, while the DOL’s…

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A Morphing Fiduciary Rule Environment Could Spell New Challenges for Carriers

One of the big news stories that impacted the annuities ecosystem over the past two years was around the Department of Labor (DOL) Fiduciary Rules, intended to create guidelines for focusing on client best interests in the sale of retirement-oriented products. The application of the “best interest” rules had significant implications for how products are…

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Annuity Headwinds

The past year has been a challenging one for annuities carriers. With regulatory uncertainty, principally driven by the on-again, off-again DOL Fiduciary rule covering a wide range of products (including indexed annuities), the downdraft experienced by many carriers was significant. As a response to potential regulatory compliance issues, broker dealers made concerted efforts to narrow…

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MetLife and the Pension Liability Transfer Issue

A series of news reports emerged this week highlighting issues that MetLife is experiencing with its pension risk transfer business. This potentially lucrative business model has large insurance carriers taking over defined pension liabilities from employers, and managing them at scale to better match assets with liabilities, all the while moving liabilities off employer balance…

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Life Policy Counts Matter

As a long-term technologist, I’m fond of pointing out that I’m most definitely not an actuary, nor have I ever played one on TV. That being said, I’ve learned many invaluable lessons over the years from my actuarial peers and, on occasion, have had the opportunity to work on product development and pricing efforts. Key…

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Corner Pharmacy Takes on a Whole New Meaning

The news this week of CVS’ planned acquisition of health insurance giant Aetna creates a whole new set of business options and opportunities to consider. Notwithstanding the fact that this kind of tie-up would have seemed improbable in the not-too-distant past, it certainly creates a new set of interesting market strategies and potential threats. As…

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Executive Support Needed to Execute Real Innovation

The insurance industry faces a wide range of challenges and opportunities as we close in on the transition to a new year. For many carriers, there appears to be a renewed sense of urgency around addressing what might be described as legacy business issues, with discussions of transformation and innovation very clearly top of mind…

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Key Takeaways from Novarica’s Minneapolis Regional Roundtable

Last week we had the opportunity to host our latest regional roundtable event for insurance carriers in Minneapolis, MN. These meetings are opportunities for insurers to network with each other, and share common challenges and solutions. It also allows us to share the latest on Novarica’s research and perspectives related to trends impacting the industry.…

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Urgent Needs for Business/Academic Collaborations

An interesting article highlighted a new initiative that COUNTRY Financial is pursuing as part of a collaboration with the University of Illinois, fixated on developing capabilities with leading edge technologies. A particular focus for the initiative is around mobile platforms. While strong relationships between businesses and academic institutions are not anything particularly new, developing the…

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Update From Iowa: Des Moines Regional Roundtable

This week, we had an opportunity to host our latest Regional Round Table event for insurance carriers, this time in Des Moines, Iowa. These meetings are designed as networking experiences that allow carriers to effectively interact with each other, as well as opportunities for us to share the latest on Novarica’s research and perspectives related…

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Challenges and Opportunities on the Horizon in Group Life

This past week I had the opportunity to moderate Novarica’s Special Interest Group meeting on Group Insurance and Voluntary Benefits. Eleven carrier participants joined us for a lively discussion around the issues, challenges, and opportunities they face in a highly competitive, diverse, and dynamic line of business. Key to the challenge today is the degree…

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Group Life Exceeds Individual Life Market

Employee Benefits Advisor recently published a fascinating article highlighting LIMRA data showing that the group life market has now exceeded the individual life market in terms of numbers of lives covered for the first time since the 1960s. The implications of this are significant on many fronts, both because of the nature of the group…

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Embracing the Future: MassMutual’s Collaboration with Captricity

This week’s news of MassMutual’s joint collaboration with Captricity to develop an analytical platform to fundamentally alter the scoring of life insurance applications is something worth watching. The basic idea of using machine learning and AI, combined with access to an extensive body of data, offers an approach that may contribute to a fundamental change…

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Silicon Valley Offers Valuable Models for Failure Tolerance and Talent Management

Silicon Valley is often championed as the leader of technology innovation. The Valley seems to hold the optimal blend of talent, capital, and ideas to foster innovative thinking. Expectations are changing, and as insurers are increasingly needing to bring innovation in-house, it is imperative to operationalize innovation. The insurance industry is ripe for the kind…

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Impact of 18-Month Delay of DOL Rule on Annuities

The long and winding journey of the DOL Fiduciary Rule covering annuities contracts continued to evolve in recent weeks. The Office of Management and Budget had approved the 18-month delay being sought by the Department of Labor for some of the more significant provisions of the originally proposed and approved rules. The OMB action creates…

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Once Again, Talent Takes Center Stage

In a world where digital capabilities increasingly make the difference between market winners and also-rans, the pursuit of talent to support both technical and analytical functions is critical. The pace of change continues to accelerate, creating new opportunities for those who are well-prepared, and increased risk for those who are not. This creates, of course,…

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Insurance and Technology at Novarica’s Columbus Regional Roundtable

Early last week, Novarica hosted its third Regional Roundtable of 2017, this time in Columbus, OH. With representatives from 25 carriers across L/A and P/C lines of business in attendance, the session took a close look at Novarica’s recent research and the current-state relationship of insurance and technology in 2017 and beyond. Our recent Silicon…

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Key Considerations When Launching a Customer Portal

Insurers have traditionally siloed their lines of business. But that presents a challenge for carriers working to meet the unified, user-friendly expectations of today’s consumers. A functional online portal has increasingly become a baseline expectation of carriers across all lines of business. Planning, design, and governance are just as important as development for insurers launching…

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Partnerships Between Insurers and Universities Bring Benefits

In an increasingly digital world, turning data into actionable information is an important capability. In fact, in high transaction frequency businesses (e.g., personal lines P/C, workers comp), there is a very real “arms race” underway in the world of analytics. Better analytical capabilities have broad implications across the insurance value chain from new business underwriting…

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Legacy Lessons

This week I’m fortunate to be hosting Novarica’s second Innovation Tour to Silicon Valley. This promises to be a fascinating experience meeting with VC firms, true InsureTech startups, a visit to one of the preeminent “accelerators” in the USA, and other major players in this ecosystem that have integrated the concept of constant innovation into…

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Novarica’s Philadelphia Regional Roundtable: Issues and Opportunities for Insurance Carriers

Earlier this week, Novarica hosted our second Regional Roundtable event of 2017, this one in Philadelphia. Attended by nearly 20 carrier participants, the session afforded us an opportunity to review recent research we’ve published as well as explore emerging issues in the context of carriers beginning to do their own planning and budgeting for 2018.…

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Enhancing DCM Capabilities Can be Tactical Approach for Modernization Efforts

Insurers use distribution/compensation management (DCM) systems to process and manage contracts, manage distribution channels, communicate with core record-keeping systems, and calculate and manage compensation plans. Some of the most sought-after capabilities for DCM solutions include: “straight-through appointment” abilities, producer management analytics, mobile support, and integration with CRM solutions. For carriers, the replacement of DCM systems…

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The Importance of Fast-Tracking Life Insurance Underwriting

Earlier this week, John Hancock announced a significant upgrade in their approach to underwriting individual life insurance contracts. The process, for which they have applied for a trademark, is referred to as “Express Track.” This new capability should significantly shorten the underwriting cycle time for specific types of contracts and customers fitting into a targeted…

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Change is Hard… Ignorance is Not a Tenable Strategy

For every company, in every industry, meeting the challenges of changing markets and consumer preferences can be a tough row to hoe. The success of the present is based on the investments and decisions of the past. Making plans for the future can put those past successes, including customer goodwill and brand value, at risk.…

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Data Utilization in the Life Insurance World May Get Much More Complicated… Soon

The transformation of data into actionable information is at the core of insurance. Understanding risk pools and creating an ability to frame a price to cover a knowable risk is key to virtually every line of business. In the P/C world, we’ve seen an impressive increase in the use of more granular data, like from…

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Looking Ahead in the Group and Voluntary Benefits Space

During the 10th annual Novarica Insurance Technology Research Council Meeting this week, I facilitated a Special Interest Group discussion on the Group and Voluntary Benefits space. We touched on the challenges and opportunities facing these carriers, many of which are detailed in our recent report Business and Technology Trends: Group Life/Annuity/Voluntary Benefits, including: Aging core…

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Issues and Opportunities in the Life and Annuities Sector

This week, I had the opportunity to moderate the Life and Annuities Panel at the 10th annual Novarica Insurance Technology Research Council. Panelists Chris Eberly, Donald Metz, and Keith Raymond of our senior team shared their insight around new challenges and realities that life and annuities insurers will need to confront in the face of…

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The Importance of Situational Awareness in a Sea of Innovation

Regardless of where we go and who we talk to, “innovation” is very much on the minds of insurance IT executives. The potential for disruptive impact on the industry is very real and we are already seeing a meaningful impact on many aspects of the business. While this is an important and notable development, carriers…

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Insurer CIOs are Innovating Talent Management Practices to Contend with Generational Changes and Scarce Skills

The topmost challenge facing insurer CIOs for 2017 isn’t core system replacements, launching digital channels, leveraging AI capabilities, or even IT operations; it’s recruiting and retaining IT staff with the appropriate skills to address their needs. The labor force is shifting, and with that shift it is becoming increasingly important to re-evaluate approaches and considerations…

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The Advent of High Deductible Health Insurance Plans and Health Savings Accounts

One of the more significant challenges facing Americans across many demographic cohorts relates to their financial “health.” The Great Recession of 2008 strained many households and fundamentally changed the nature of work for a significant number of people. As Millennials are increasingly participated in the US-labor force and stand poised to become the largest working…

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It Can Be a Short Walk from Humorous to Insightful

Once the laughing stops, careful consideration should be given to next steps. Innovation comes in many forms and is frequently dependent on taking an existing concept or product and making modest improvements or refinements to create a breakout concept. I recently had the privilege of hosting a group of 20 CIOs and CTOs for an…

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Increasing Number of Carriers Creating Venture Capital Units

An interesting story appeared in the Digital Insurance publication recently, emphasizing the increasing activity associated with insurance carriers creating their own venture capital units to focus on opportunities to participate in, if not drive, a wave of anticipated innovation impacting the industry. While this is certainly not a new event, as many carriers have operated…

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“Chatbots” Can Accelerate Agent Automation Process

There has been significant interest emerging recently in the role that technology may play in the evolution of roles that are central to key business functions for insurance carriers. From underwriting to claims to customer service, technology offers carriers an opportunity to rethink functions while improving the economics of delivering capabilities. For many functions, the…

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When It Comes to Innovation, No Simple Answers

As our recent “tour” of Silicon Valley with 20 senior carrier IT leaders demonstrated, the factors which allow the area to be such a fertile environment for innovation are both complex and varied. In a webinar we recently hosted we talked about the combination of technological, financial, educational, environmental and geographical factors which have contributed…

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Tesla’s Bundling of Insurance With Car Sales, and a New Model of Ownership

A new development, with potentially significant implications for insurance carriers, is reflected in an article in Business Insider which notes that Tesla is considering including the cost of both insurance and maintenance into the price of their vehicles in the future. This is actually not a completely new idea.It does, however, represent an expansion of…

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In Competitive Group Life Business, Technology is Key

Group life, annuities, and voluntary benefits continues to be a hyper-competitive sector, with technology playing an ever-larger role in insurers’ ability to attract, retain, and profitably serve clients. Agent, plan sponsor (e.g., employer), and customer-self-service capabilities are increasing in importance, as well as educational and planning tools. Carriers are seeking more modern systems better able…

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DOL Fiduciary Rule: What Next?

The news of potential changes to the contentious DOL Fiduciary Rule on Friday, February 3rd, based on the new administration’s actions, whipsawed back and forth. In the end, the final version of the Presidential memo did not, in fact, delay the implementation of the rule, which now seems to be set to go into effect…

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Slowing the Merger of Large Health Carriers Has Interesting Implications

This week, a federal judge blocked the proposed merger of Aetna and Humana. The news carries with it implications for these carriers, the health insurance market more broadly, as well as for other potential merger deals. As reported by Bloomberg, the courts sided with the government’s argument that the merger would have a direct and…

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Revenge of the Mutuals?

An interesting article came out over the weekend that delves into the consolidation that has taken place among publicly traded life insurance companies, and contrasts this trend with the relatively stable number of mutual carriers that are in the market today. We are now the better part of two decades past the period when there…

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Are Young Insurance Agents Too Optimistic About the Future?

A recent survey of younger agents highlighted a generally optimistic view of the future. In addition to reflecting positive sentiments about economic prospects, they also appear to feel good about the security of their positions, given the significant number of current producers that are expected to retire from the labor force. The average age of…

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The New Administration Could Roll Back DOL Fiduciary Standard, But Carriers Shouldn’t Plan on It

One of the many regulatory and policy changes that could come with the new administration in Washington next year is related to the impending implementation of the Department of Labor’s Fiduciary Rule. The DOL mandate anticipates some sweeping changes for the retirement industry, which carriers and distributors alike have been preparing for since early 2016.…

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EIS and Guidewire Awarded “AWS Financial Services Competency” as the Migration to the Cloud Picks Up Steam

This week marked a very interesting development involving Amazon and two core systems vendors focused on PAS and adjacent capabilities supporting different lines of business, as both EIS and Guidewire were awarded Amazon’s “AWS Financial Services Competency”. Cloud computing continues to make significant strides in taking on key workloads for carriers, irrespective of size and…

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Special Interest Group Meeting for Disability Income Carriers

Last week, Novarica hosted a Special Interest Group session focused on Individual Disability Insurance carriers in Boston. These carriers, which frequently operate this business as an adjunct to either bigger individual life or group benefits lines, face some unique challenges (and opportunities) as they plan their go-to-market strategies for the future. The resulting discussions, which…

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Life in the Cloud is Now a Reality

One of the more rapidly developing issue areas in the portfolio of items facing IT organizations is how and when to best leverage cloud-based services. Many carriers have moved important (but non-production) work loads into cloud based options, including both application development and testing. This has given carriers the opportunity to try the services out…

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Carrier M&A Continues, as Penn Mutual Recently Acquired Vantis Life

One of the highly valued business assets for many companies is their very brand itself. Some brands can connote luxury, some can convey youthful enthusiasm and others can represent strength and durability. In a highly conservative industry such as insurance, which has historically been focused on making sure that it was possible to deliver on…

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Group Insurance Special Interest Group Session Highlighted Opportunities and Challenges

Recently, Novarica facilitated a Special Interest Group session in Wellesley, MA, focused on the issues, challenges and opportunities facing carriers in the Group and Voluntary Benefits space. Sixteen carrier participants made the trip to join in a session which provided for a wide-ranging discussion that was particularly timely, inasmuch as many carriers are now in…

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Merrill Lynch will be Cutting Commissions for IRAs

The impending implementation of leading aspects of the DOL Fiduciary rules continues to have significant implications across financial services, including insurance and related business. Recently, we noted that Nationwide’s purchase of Jefferson National gave them an important new asset in the fee based product / RIA space. At the same time, Merrill Lynch has announced…

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Annuities Special Interest Group Session Offered a Great Preview for 2017

Earlier this week we facilitated the latest in our series of Special Interest Group meetings, this one focused on Annuities. This portion of the insurance industry is facing some notable headwinds from both regulatory and compliance perspectives, as well as economic pressures fostered by the persistent low interest rate environment. For our meeting, which took…

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Take DR Plans Seriously

Like many this week, I’ve been watching with concern as Hurricane Matthew took aim at the coast of the Southeastern US. For those of us in NC it has been with a certain relief that the storm has a projected path the moves it east. The storm, however, reminded me of a different storm almost…

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Robo-advisors are Growing in Importance

While the term “robo-advisors” has been very much in the trade news over the past year, and the term is somewhat unfortunate inasmuch as it doesn’t fully convey what these capabilities are able to deliver, these algorithmic capabilities for managing investment portfolios are nevertheless increasingly important in the evolving space for matching up the appropriate…

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Nationwide’s Acquisition of Jefferson National and Preparation for DOL Compliance

With less that a fiscal quarter remaining before the initial impact of the DOL Fiduciary rule changes are felt by the industry, most carriers involved with the manufacture and distribution of variable and indexed annuity products are deeply into implementing changes to assure compliance. The changes require close collaboration between manufacturers and distributors and will…

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Case Study Highlight: Enterprise Operational Analytics at Trustmark

As we approach the announcement of the Novarica Impact Awards in the fall, we will be highlighting one Impact Award nominee each week on our blog. The Novarica Impact Awards are voted on by over 300 members of the Novarica Insurance Technology Research Council, making them the only purely peer-reviewed awards program in insurance technology.…

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COLI / BOLI Special Interest Group Meeting Previews New Research

On March 1, Novarica hosted our most recent special interest group meeting for insurance technology senior leaders focused on specific lines of business. The sessions, which provide an opportunity to share recent targeted research, also create an environment for significant networking between carriers, many of which are dealing with strikingly similar issues as they look…

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Technology’s Changing Role for Group and Voluntary Benefits

Today’s group insurance arena is a hyper-competitive sector, with technology playing an ever larger role in attracting, retaining, and profitably serving clients. Technology is also playing a pivotal role in allowing carriers to make the significant transition from the traditional group benefits model to one that requires the ability to concurrently support both group and…

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Policy Administration Systems: A Gateway to the Future

With a rapidly changing and fragmenting market place for insurance, core replacement is becoming increasingly essential the L/H/A space.  Updating of legacy systems is important for capabilities like customer experience, BI/analytics, and product innovation which become key differentiators in an increasingly competitive, and transparent, world. In response, vendors for L/H/A policy administration systems are offering…

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For Carriers, Absence Management is More Present than Ever

Employers face a daunting array of issues and regulatory concerns as they manage benefit programs and related employment law provisions. Employment law and the efforts to ensure compliance with it are driving absence management functions into the daily fabric of the employer-employee relationship. With that backdrop, providing absence management functions will be necessary to gain…

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For Life Insurers, the First Step is Admitting there is a Problem (in this case, with Customer Experience)

I had a chance to speak at the recent North Carolina CEO summit and one of the key takeaways was that one of the hardest things for companies in any industry to do is adjust their business processes to reflect appropriately on the challenges and opportunities made possible by new technology and changing consumer expectations.…

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From The Road…Oracle OpenWorld

Last week’s Oracle OpenWorld event in San Francisco was interesting (and valuable) on a number of levels. I’d never been to an event with 60,000 attendees before that didn’t somehow involve a professional sports team. The size and scope of the proceedings are impressive. Once you get past the impression that you’ve landed at someone’s…

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Life Insurers Looking for Top Talent and Technological Change

Earlier this week, Novarica hosted the latest in our Special Interest Group series of executive round table discussions, which in this case focused on individual life insurers. This line of business currently faces significant technological change, and due to the preponderance of legacy core systems, coupled with increasing customer baseline expectations, it will soon be…

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Update from Orlando: Themes for 2016

I had the opportunity to participate in the revamped CSC user conference recently, which was a terrific opportunity to visit with both the issues … and the challenges … facing carriers as they move into the final stages of 2015’s Budget Season. With technology developments moving quickly and the reality of raised expectations around what…

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With 2016 Planning in High Gear, Special Interest Group Meeting for Large P&C Insurers Highlights Opportunities, Challenges and Risks

Last week Novarica hosted the latest in our Special Interest Group series of CIO-oriented meetings, which in this case focused on large P&C carriers. This is a line of business facing both heightened competition and significant technology change, which is forcing thoughtful prioritization for project investment portfolios. As carriers grapple with current technical debt issues…

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What Do Blue Jeans and Business Intelligence Have in Common?

Change is clearly all around us, with interesting new technology announcements seeming to arrive at a dizzying pace. From self-driving cars, to the Internet of Things, to the advent of new developments languages (e.g., Swift), finding the informational “gold” inside all of the noise can seem like a full time task. And, of course, missing…

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Talent Quest: A Whole New IT Ballgame?

Innovation and transformative thinking are more than just buzz phrases for insurance carrier IT organizations. In an effort to avoid their own Kodak (or Blockbuster) moments, CIO’s and their teams are increasingly focused on how technology can be leveraged to create real and meaningful differentiation for their carriers. It is both a valued undertaking and…

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Unexpected Competition: Only A Heartbeat Away!

At Pegaworld this week, Dr. Mark Boxer, Global CIO at Cigna Insurance, delivered a powerful keynote address on the evolution of healthcare and the supporting technology in the United States. While acknowledging a range of challenges in the healthcare system today, he likened this to the opening lines from “A Tale of Two Cities”: it…

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Group Benefits Solutions: Still a Work in Progress

At our 8th annual Novarica Insurance Technology Research Council Meeting, the discussion was wide-ranging at the Life/Health/Annuities breakout session. The session focused on both Individual and Group product lines, with a particular focus on both Group and Voluntary benefits. For the Group space, after many years of depressed investment (no doubt fueled by the Great…

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Six Technology Priorities for Individual Life Carriers

The individual life marketplace continues to be hyper-competitive with technology playing an ever larger role in insurers’ ability to attract, retain and profitably serve clients. With the release of our new Business & Technology Trends: Individual Life report, it is an ideal time to highlight six technology priorities in this area. More robust policy administration…

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A Contrarian View on Self-Driving Cars – Beware the Unintended Consequences

While I embrace many (most?) things with a technology flair, I have to admit to being a bit amused with all the recent breathless excitement exuded over the idea of self-driving cars. To be sure, technology is making them ever safer and more fuel efficient. It is also augmenting the driving experience so that paper…

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Dealing with the COBOL Brain Drain

As Baby Boomer COBOL programmers increasingly have the opportunity to say “bon voyage” to working 9-5 and retire, some Insurance IT executives are having restless nights trying to figure out how they are going to address the resulting brain drain. Not only are insurers losing vast amounts of programming knowledge, but they are losing vital…

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Special Interest Group 2015: Annuities

Earlier last week, we hosted our first special interest group meeting focused exclusively on annuities. Increasingly we have found carriers value opportunities like this to spend dedicated time on very specific lines of business. We were certainly not disappointed this time! One carrier noted that “This is the first event I’ve ever been to that…

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Webinar: Group Life/Annuity/Voluntary Benefits

In my last blog post I wrote about seven key findings from our Business & Technology Trends: Group Life/Annuity/Voluntary benefits report. In this post I would like to quickly highlight some of the top technology priorities, which I will be covering in more detail during our webinar on March 18th at 2 pm (ET). Technology…

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Seven Key Findings About the Group Life/Annuity/Voluntary Benefits Sector

With plan sponsors becoming increasingly price-conscious, the group life, annuities and voluntary benefits sector is turning to technology to help them attract, retain and profitably serve clients. Across the industry, insurers continue to make investments spanning the Novarica Insurance Core Systems Map. Novarica has identified seven key findings in its Business and Technology Trends: Group…

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Don’t Get Tripped by a Tipping Point!

Late last year I had the opportunity to spend time exploring Silicon Valley in depth which created a new-found appreciation for the form and function of innovation that comes from that singular location. The interconnectedness and leverage that has been created by having a unique combination of talent, financing, risk taking and competition is impressive.…

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Digital Failings

We live in a brave new world now with digital devices and equipment surrounding us in a sea of capabilities that (generally) improve the quality of our experiences. They also allow us to extend ourselves in ways that would have been hard to contemplate until recently. While this has many great potential benefits, there are…

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Baked Ham and How “Best Practices” Reflect the Best Available Technology…

Both organizations and the people who comprise them are, to a significant degree, a function of their experiences. As time progresses we learn what works, and what doesn’t. We explore strategic alternatives and consider decisions which reflect an appropriate balance of risks and rewards in order to allow us to optimize results based on a…

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Core Systems Selections… It Isn’t Like Riding a Bike!

Or, in retrospect, maybe it is. The old adage that “we never forget” key life skills from an earlier time may have some instructive elements for CIO’s to be aware of. And to beware of. I recently really did return to riding a bike and, while there haven’t been any medical emergencies, it hasn’t exactly…

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Getting at the Root Cause Helps Avoid “Ready, Fire, Aim” Events

The idea of finding a root cause to a problem, before going into “action” mode for fixing symptoms related to issues, is a tried and true methodology. In the calm, when there’s no particular problem to address and no sense of impending doom caused by the pressure to actually get something done, the rationality of…

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Business and Technology Trends: Individual Annuities

This week, Novarica released the most recent of our Business and Technology Trends reports, focused on the Individual Annuity market segment. The report is available for immediate download from Novarica’s research library or directly via the link https://www.novarica.com/b_and_t_trends_indv_annuity_2014. The individual annuity space remains highly competitive for carriers in the United States, with cost pressures remaining…

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Accelerating Pace of Change Requires New IT Planning Paradigms

One of the realities of IT in any industry is that “truth” related to technology is a fleeting thing. The best system or technology to deploy can evolve with surprising speed, making it important for CIO’s and their organizations to determine with some precision what a roadmap toward a future state should look like. Increasingly,…

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Here’s the Problem… A Process Is Only As Good As Its Weakest Link!

Recently, I decided that I needed to update my life insurance portfolio. With a range of life events taking place, and a 10 year term policy purchased in 2004 coming to a natural end, I was poised to take quick action. Suffering from mild OCD, I actually started the process a full 8 weeks before…

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Business and Technology Trends: Individual Life

This week, Novarica released the most recent of our Business and Technology Trends reports, focused on the Individual Life Insurance market segment. The report is available for immediate download from Novarica’s research library or directly via the link https://www.novarica.com/b_and_t_trends_individual_life_2014/ Five years after the official end of the Great Recession, this is a segment of the…

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Straight Through Chicago

Last week’s LIMRA/ LOMA Retirement Conference in Chicago provided an interesting overview and update for what is happening in the industry today. Jim McCool from Charles Schwab noted the importance of having carriers move to establish trust with consumers, and the need to de-clutter and simplify products and business models. He highlighted the example of…

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Unintended Consequences

An article in this week’s Business Week magazine reminded me of the impact that unintended consequences can have on projects and programs throughout financial services. Regardless of how one views the Affordable Care Act, one of the clear points of debate and discussion has related to the speed and breadth of program adoption. Following the…

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The Target Data Breach and Lessons for Insurer CIOs

While the Target stores “hack” was not the biggest in recent history, it is certainly one of the most visible and offers some important object lessons for insurance company CIOs. As we have now learned, malicious software was installed on company servers in late 2013, providing a gateway through which hackers were able to gather…

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Mobile Matters

It was fifty years ago that the Beatles arrived in America and changed the world. When it was happening, you knew it was somehow big, but even the most prophetic among us could not have imagined just how important it was. As a wee lad, I remember watching the Ed Sullivan show with my grandparents…

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IT Planning: Mergers & Acquisitions

We recently published the latest in our CIO Checklist series of executive briefs, focused on the actions that can best prepare IT organizations for supporting mergers and acquisitions. With margins tight and competition levels high, M&A opportunities may represents an important element for some carriers’ strategic growth plans. Mergers can also represent an important complement…

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