Until last summer, CUMIS Life Insurance Company was running a desktop and web-based illustration system that they had developed in-house. The system provided its agents with basic functionality adequate in supporting CUMIS’ original life insurance products. However, the CUMIS product development team had begun aggressive design work to introduce a new Critical Illness product and to enhance their existing Term product portfolio to include Preferred. CUMIS realized that their existing illustration solution would not stand the test of time.

The Challenge
“In order to increase our competitive edge and bring our new products to market quickly,” said Tina Bellavia, Director, Individual Insurance Products, “we required a solution that would provide us with maximum flexibility and speed to process new business without extensive and costly customization efforts each time a product is introduced.” CUMIS decided that the best strategy to meet their current and future needs would be to find a trusted vendor that could supply the components and tools for an entirely new, flexible and customizable illustration solution that could be deployed as a desktop or web-based application.

The Solution
Following a thorough evaluation of the options available, CUMIS selected illustrate inc to deliver a new web and desktop illustration system. According to Tina Bellavia, CUMIS was impressed by the solid company referrals, illustrate inc’s approach and culture and by their responsiveness and depth of insurance knowledge.
In late summer, 2003, the two companies worked side by side to plan and concurrently implement a new desktop and web illustration solution for CUMIS. The project timeframe included delivery of the desktop version first and the web version shortly thereafter. Project management roles were shared equally. The implementation teams had the added challenge of ensuring that the new solutions would integrate seamlessly with CUMIS’ current web-based field support tools including their electronic application submission, Insurelink. The advantage of concurrent implementation and the .NET platform itself allowed customization to be streamlined and cost effective as only one set of objects was changed.

All Systems Go!
In November 2003, CUMIS released the first production version of the new desktop illustration system to their field force. The web-based system involved a variety of more complex technical challenges and was released to the agents in January 2004. The concurrent projects were both delivered on time.

Along the Way
“The CUMIS Group was the first implementation of our .NET platform solution and along the way, we encountered a few challenges,” said Zahir Dhalla, President of illustrate inc “The real key in solving these issues was the strength of our relationship with CUMIS and their willingness to be open and work through the bumps.”
According to Tina Bellavia, illustrate inc acted as a true partner and worked with CUMIS to solve any of the difficulties that arose. “They listened and responded with an uncompromised level of quality and service. Neither company had the benefit of past experience with this new platform, so we were truly in this together and I think that the results we have achieved are excellent, especially given the short timelines we had set,” she stated.

The Results
It is still too early to measure the effectiveness and the response of the field force to the new illustration technologies. CUMIS anticipates that with the added functionality and flexibility of the new solutions, the company will be able to significantly decrease the turnaround time for new applications. CUMIS also anticipates considerable savings in new product development expenses.

The CUMIS Group markets a diverse portfolio of insurance and other non-financial services to Canadian financial co-operatives, credit unions and caisses populaires and their members. The principal companies are: CUMIS Life Insurance Company, CUMIS General Insurance, Canadian Northern Shield Insurance Company, MemberCARE Financial Services Limited, CUMIS Services Limited and WESTCU Insurance Services Limited and 50 per cent ownership in several B.C.-based property and casualty insurance agencies. The CUMIS Group is a partner in the Credit Union Insurance Services (CUIS) program, a joint marketing venture between the CUMIS Group and The Co-operators. For more information, visit the company’s web site at: www.cumis.com

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