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Data migration for underwriting agencies: traditional versus modern approach

From switching systems to onboarding new books of business, the insurance industry is awash with data migration projects.

April 12, 2021

From switching systems to onboarding new books of business, the insurance industry is awash with data migration projects.

How many times have you embarked on these complex, time consuming and, dare I say, pointless projects just for the data to sit unused in another database?

Don’t worry, you don’t need to answer that…

Fortunately, there’s a better way, which we will call the ‘modern approach’, but first, let’s remind ourselves of the horrors of the traditional approach.

The traditional approach to data migration

In this case, data migration means the complete extraction of data from a legacy system in order to map and upload it into a new or existing system. The insurance industry is increasingly overrun by this problem due to:

  • Market consolidation leading to increasingly fragmented system landscapes
  • Saturated PAS (Policy Admin System) market meaning insurers increasingly transitioning to newer platforms
  • Multiple systems being used as a differentiator for optimised distribution and service delivery
  • Placing rates onto broker systems and receiving bordereaux seen as a quick and efficient route to market

With an overreliance on PAS systems, the traditional approach to unifying data has always involved adding the old data to the new system, often in the form of data migration projects, however, these bring many challenges as:

  • PAS systems aren’t designed to ‘talk’ to each other
  • Poor data quality requires manual cleansing and is rather time consuming
  • Unless data is required in the system’s underwriting process, it is potentially a pointless exercise

These challenges add to the cost of data migration, which can be anywhere between 5 to 10 times more expensive than the modern approach.

So, what exactly is the modern approach?

The modern approach employs an analytical ‘layer’ that sits around any system, spreadsheet or dataset.

While the transactional layer excels at processing and capturing data, the analytical layer excels at absorbing data, whatever the format, quality or granularity. In this approach, the analytical layer becomes the central MI and reporting tool, connecting to all historic and current, internal and external data sources.

The analytical layer caters for all MI and reporting processes, from extracting, cleansing and organising granular performance information, to automatically generating more complex reports such as earned premium and triangulations, rate strength and IBNR & ultimates.

This layer can also be customised to meet any MI requirement whilst naturally resolving the question of data migration, with the following benefits:

  • Seamlessly ingest data from any source system, regardless of quality, size and granularity
  • Automatically cleanse and organise the data
  • Unify legacy data with current data to give complete business oversight
  • Tailor the analytical layer to provide advanced MI

By decoupling transactional and analytical systems, insurers can differentiate and reap the full benefits of their data. With a transactional system streamlining processes and capturing excellent data and an analytical layer unifying all historic, current and future data – an insurer has the foundations on which to thrive.

But what are the actual benefits of the modern approach?

The difference between the traditional and modern approaches are stark. For example, Rob Amati, MD of Millstream Underwriting shared with us that detailed data requests for important decisions now take ten minutes instead of 2 weeks – imagine the difference that would make to your business.

We all know that data migration projects in the insurance industry are here to stay, however, they no longer need to be error prone and time-consuming. Instead, by adopting the modern approach, insurers can ensure maximum value is extracted from their data, and systems are kept streamlined, while avoiding the traditional data migration headaches.

If you are currently considering a data migration project, we would encourage you to speak with one of our consultants at GIROUX. They will be more than happy to help you understand your requirements and help you consider whether the modern approach may in fact be better suited to your needs.

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