As a small, regional insurer, Wayne Mutual has been outsourcing its IT operations for 20 years. Formed in 1910 as a mutual protective association for local farmers, the Wooster, Ohio based carrier today provides property/casualty insurance to 30,000 policyholders in "the Buckeye state.""Wayne Mutual has never done its own IT processing," says Tim Suppes, vice president of operations at the company, which reported $16.6 million in net written premium in 2002. "We're not big enough to have an in-house staff of programmers," he says.

As a result, Wayne Mutual had a longstanding outsourcing relationship with Western Reserve Group, a larger property/casualty insurer, also based in Wooster.

For two decades, the larger insurer provided IT processing and support for Wayne Mutual's policies, billing and claims.

Then, in October 1999, when Western Reserve Group decided to get out of the outsourcing business, Wayne Mutual was left to find a new application service provider (ASP).

Fortunately, after 22 months in an unsuccessful relationship with another service provider, Wayne Mutual established one that worked. In January 2002, the insurer switched to Results International Sys-tems (RIS), an ASP for the property/casualty industry based in Dublin, Ohio.

And the new relationship has produced results: Four months after signing on with RIS, Wayne Mutual's supplemental and commercial liability lines were up and running on an RIS AS/400. And by November 2002, all of the insurer's business lines, including homeowners, farmowners, auto, commercial, fire and umbrella, had been converted to the ASP's IT systems.

In the same mode

Today, Results International is providing the IT processing and support previously provided by Western Reserve Group-including policy administration and claims processing.

"We do all production support and enhancements, including nightly cycles and backups, output and production of reports," says Cindi Feldner, client services manager at RIS.

RIS uses a customized version of FiservSIS' Specialty Insurance System. But rating is done on a proprietary RIS system. The ASP also processes Wayne Mutual's claims. "The draughts are issued on our system, and then they're fed into a check printer at Wayne Mutual," Feldner says.

Business functions, such as underwriting, claims and accounting, are performed in real-time by Wayne Mutual's 37 employees working on Results Interna-tional's computers through a virtual private network.

"We're basically in the same mode we were with Western Reserve Group, except Western Re-serve Group printed policies and bills," says Suppes.

"They were so close by, we just went down to their offices and picked up the printed documents. Now, we print everything here."

New technologies

Wayne Mutual's main business goal in turning to RIS in January 2002 was to get its policies converted as quickly as possible.

With that accomplished, the insurer has been able to work with RIS on advanced functionality.

"We had to get a vendor to get us up and running," says Suppes. "That was our main goal. And RIS did it."

Since the conversion, however, RIS has implemented Web billing for Wayne Mutual, which enables the company's agents to access billing information and make payments online. And Wayne Mutual's main initiatives with RIS for 2004 are to provide Web rating to agents and to implement document imaging.

Currently, Wayne Mutual staff is working with green-screen interfaces. But the Web rating project will transform the front-end technology to a browser-based format similar to the one agents are using now, Suppes says.

"We were accustomed to using green screens, and our timeline required us to concentrate our efforts on getting up and running," he says. "But when we implement Web rating, we will consolidate screens and make the system more user-friendly."

RIS has two different methods of providing Web rating-using screen-scraping technology or Microsoft's .NET. "They've already done this with other companies," Suppes notes. "So they can show us the pros and cons of each method."

Similarly, RIS is working with other customers to pool resources and costs to implement a document imaging package from a third-party vendor.

"That's one of the advantages of working with an ASP," says Suppes. "They keep up on technology. They keep up with what other companies are doing. So they can provide some of those best practices to us instead of us having to find them."

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