Making Strategic Decisions in a Virtual World

Key Takeaways from Earnix Excelerate 2021’s session with Anton Burger, Head Agile PMO, Hollard Insurance 

Hollard is South Africa’s largest privately-owned insurance group offering the full range of insurance products to individuals and companies. They were in a constant state of pricing new products, with as many as 7 rating engines working at the same time. Hollard realized that this situation was ineffective and inefficient. As Anton Burger, Head Agile PMO explained, “We created a vision where we would have better governance and control, faster speed to market, agility, and a single source of trust across the entire business of pricing.”  

The Hollard team created this vision before the Covid pandemic hit and had to figure out how to turn that vision into reality despite the new pandemic-related challenges. Early on, the company’s leaders identified the need for a strong partnership – an insurance-technology solution that could help them configure and maintain their products all in one place.  

They found that partner in Earnix, and we were thrilled to have Anton share their experience with us at Earnix Excelerate 2021.  

The Challenges of a Disjointed Pricing System

Hollard was working with seven different rating engines plus two manual rating methods, making a total of nine different rating processes. This meant that it could take up to a year for pricing updates to hit the market. In the most extreme cases, there would be different prices for the same products at the same time, creating anti-selection against themselves.  

In addition, each pricing engine had its own dedicated IT team supporting it, leading to much higher IT costs than were necessary. Anton expressed the need to “move from multi-rating engines into one mission-critical product and pricing engine where we can configure and maintain products, rates, workflow rules, and underwriting rules. We also need to future-proof ourselves in terms of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and UBI as well as be able to do A/B testing. All of this functionality must integrate into our internal line of business systems and also our external line of business systems.” 

In short, Hollard was looking for a magic bullet – an insurance technology tool that could streamline their inefficient process and that could do it in a way that would be easy to get buy-in from all of the different teams involved. This was no easy task even in “normal” times, and trying to find the company that could solve this challenge was much more complicated when so many people were working remotely and meetings had to be held virtually.  

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work  

Hollard knew exactly what they were looking for. They understood the bigger picture and the need to overhaul their IT landscape – not just the pricing component,  and therefore had embarked on a process of documenting an instate architecture that encompassed more than just pricing. They also understood the importance of a strong team and partner, and they were specifically seeking out an insurance software solution and provider that would be able to garner the support of the whole team. 

From the beginning of the evaluation process, it was clear that Earnix had the potential to be the partner that Hollard was looking for. As Anton described it: “Earnix stood out right from the start. From the start, communication was excellent and documentation was provided on time and sometimes ahead of schedule.” As they moved to the testing and evaluation of the software itself, “the process played a vital role in establishing the trust amongst Hollard and Earnix. We kept the team small and had the right team members. Communication was effective and robust, but honest and sincere with transparency a key factor on both sides.”  

Out of the evaluation process, which was shorter than a typical proof of concept process, the Hollard team determined that Earnix’s insurance rating software would be able to do what they needed and – perhaps more importantly – that they were able to trust the Earnix team and know that they were there to help and support, albeit remotely. 

Clarity of Purpose in a Remote World 

Getting everyone on the same page is enough of a challenge when the entire team is in the same room, but Hollard had to implement this major change to their work method 100% remotely, involving people in South Africa, Israel and the UK. Luckily for them, they had begun drumming up support internally for the change as early as November 2019. The internal team was clear and in agreement on the need to set and roll out new rates faster in order to gain and keep an advantage in the market.  

With everyone laser-focused on that one clear goal, supported by the C-level executives, it was easy to express the needs to Earnix. Given that the goals that Hollard was seeking were right in line with the value that Earnix offers, it was a perfect fit.  

The Implementation Process

By September 2020, Hollard was ready to evaluate Earnix’s software to ensure that it could, in fact, suit their needs. The software evaluation was planned and executed in just over six weeks. Hollard used data supplied by Earnix to build commercial and personalized pricing models and products. They then simulated the integration of all of their systems and used the pricing software engine to produce premiums to show that the integration worked. Earnix provided all of the required training and were very hands-on in making sure that the Hollard team knew how to create and deploy pricing and products.  

In a very short period of time – and entirely remotely – the Hollard team learned to configure the models and actually integrate Earnix into their business systems and get a successful premium. Simultaneous to the testing of the system, Hollard’s leadership worked on getting the approval of the entire team so that, as soon as the testing was successful, they could immediately get to work finalizing the deal.  

What Made the Process Successful  

Anton explained: “If the vision is there and you have the right resources and capabilities in the right quantities, and everyone is motivated and believes in the vision, and there is buy-in and support from management for a proper action plan, then you have the right recipe and success is almost guaranteed. You will operate like a well-oiled machine.”  

Hollard had all of the pieces of the puzzle in place. By ensuring that the shared vision was in place before they brought Earnix into the picture, the partnership started off with an already strong foundation. The trust that was built internally easily extended to include the Earnix team. “The entire team worked together to make sure that everyone knew exactly what their responsibility was,” Anton shared. “We made decisions together. Frank discussions were used to get the maximum from all team members and objectives were only changed if the whole team concurred. And we applied these principles throughout the project.”  

The Final Word 

This process made it clear that it’s possible to make big strategic decisions and implement changes efficiently even in a fully remote world as long as you have the right teams and the right software and partner. 

With these key elements in place, Hollard was able to build 44 commercial pricing models in the first 10 months of 2021, as well as three key personalized pricing models across two products in the personal insurance line.  

Read the full case study to learn more about how Hollard used Earnix to build foundations for future success. 

 

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