Zurich U.S. Insurance

E-business-intelligence solution helps Zurich U.S. Insurance claim competitive advantage

When customers of Zurich U.S. Insurance, a property-casualty insurer based in Schaumburg, Ill., wanted more timely information, the company realized that "the Internet was the only answer that made any sense," said Frank Colletti, assistant vice president of the Enterprise Risk Division.


Project: RiskIntelligence

Purpose: To differentiate Zurich in the crowded field of risk management.

Benefits: Improved speed and cost of delivering claims reports to clients; competitive advantage; and reduced support costs.

Platforms: Windows NT, IBM AIX Unix, IBM RS/6000

Zurich already had a full-client solution, the Risk Manager Workstation, up and running. But updated data for this product had to be sent to customers every month. "The data wasn't timely enough," Colletti explained. "It could be 45 days old by the time [customers] were loading it." Focus groups conducted by the Enterprise Risk Division revealed that users wanted data on a daily basis, so Zurich began production of RiskIntelligence in June 1997.

The e-business intelligence app offers customers immediate access to critical loss data. It also offers the ability to analyze the data for trends that can be positively managed in order to reduce claims and insurance costs.

Using Microsoft Project, Zurich built the software development life cycle around several milestones. The first was to produce a demo of the app by April 1998. From April to August, the project team focused on developing the infrastructure and security to make the app production-ready for an extranet implementation. From mid- August to mid-November, the team piloted the application with about 20 customers and, based on their feedback, made adjustments to the application. A major technical challenge was the fact that RiskIntelligence was the first extranet Zurich had developed. There was no infrastructure in place, and the project required the team to develop a T-1 connection and a firewall concurrently. In order to handle infrastructure and hardware aspects, the team was split into two groups.


Sandy Pabyanskus
Jody Winfield
Kevin Vanderwater
Ellen Feliciano
Lenora Holmsten
Frank Colletti

The software chosen by the team presented another challenge. WebIntelligence was picked as the key enabling technology because it offered thin-client access, point-and-click reporting and security features. However, WebIntelligence was still in beta when the project started, so "we went through growing pains," noted Zurich's Colletti. In order to overcome this technology learning curve, team members underwent extensive training offered by the different tool vendors.

The team used Sybase IQ because of its fast retrieval in an ad-hoc query environment and its data compression. Initially, Zurich chose NT as its platform because WebIntelligence was compatible with it. How- ever, the firm is now switching to IBM AIX Unix because it is better suited to a 24x7 configuration. Zurich chose Dynamics because it felt it was a solid security tool with a good reputation; WSD-Pro was selected for its ability to handle load building and redundancy.


Business Objects' WebIntelligence 2.0, Sybase IQ, Dynamics, Radware's WSD-Pro

The system architecture is built around a T-1 connection to the Internet and firewall. Customers dial-in using a Web browser and at least a 28.8K modem. Authorization is conducted through Security Dynamics, and a VeriSign Certificate is used for encryption. Queries are received by a WSD-Pro Web router that manages connections to other servers, including a Compaq ProLiant Web server running WebIntelligence and a Unix server that holds the Business Objects repository. The development team built the T-1 line, the firewall, the WSD-Pro Web router and the entire server farm for this application.

Targeted at Zurich's large customers who carry premiums averaging $1 million and more, RiskIntelligence has helped Zurich improve the speed and cost of delivering claims reports to clients. The product saved Zurich $400,000 in its first year of implementation through the reduction of support costs, an additional $300,000 last year, and another $100,000 in savings is expected in 2000.
— Lana Gates