Companies to Watch - February 2011
President: Glen Piller
Year Founded: 1999
# of Employees: 60
Public or Private: Private firm
In the late nineties, at the height of the high-tech boom, banks and investment firms began capitalizing on new technological solutions available to improve and expedite customer service transactions. The P&C industry, on the other hand, was still relying on face-to-face transactions and manual data storage to do the bulk of its business. Glen Piller, a 20-year insurance veteran, decided he wanted to help propel the P&C industry into the 21st century.
“The P&C industry had to make significant investments in broker connectivity, communications and online business transactions,” says Piller, the CEO of Toronto-based software developer iter8. In 1999, Piller joined forces with another ex-industry professional and two software developers with the goal of completely automating carrier-to-broker transactions.
“Quote, bind, submit and make policy changes,” says Piller of iter8’s software solutions.
Reasons to Watch
The company marked its ten-year anniversary late last year and now boasts some of the biggest carrier names in Canada as its clients. Piller and his colleagues are now preparing to unleash the next wave of innovation: mobile.
“Changing demographics have created increasingly tech-savvy consumers,” says Piller. “They are demanding the ability to do insurance transactions online with as much ease as they currently do their banking and investments.”
At a time when banks are encroaching on the market, iter8 is developing mobile applications to position brokers to better compete.
“We do the majority of our business with broker-distributed companies,” says Piller. “The portal technology that we already have and the mobile applications that are currently in development will allow brokers to extend this technology to the customers, so that the customers can perform transactions directly with carriers.”
Piller is quick to point out that the carrier-to-consumer technology is not a threat to brokers, but is designed to help brokers compete with direct-to-consumer insurance.
With the new technology, consumers will be able to log into their broker’s portal to get quotes, or to submit information to make inquiries or to make changes to their policies.
“It’s not dissimilar to the level of banking you can do from a mobile portal,” says Piller. “You probably cannot apply for a line of credit from a BlackBerry, for example, but you can inquire about your balance. In the same way, customers will be able to use the mobile portals to inquire about when their premiums are due.”
The company is also increasing the capacity of its commercial line portals.
“It will significantly speed up the time it takes for quotes, new business submissions and procession,” says Piller. “Currently it can take four to five days to submit new business manually. We’ve reduced this time to hours.”
In late 2010, iter8 went live with its first broker portal in the United States at Rhode Island-based Providence Mutual Fire Insurance Company.
At the 2010 Insurance-Canada Technology Conference, iter8 received an Honourable Mention in the Suppliers category of the Technology Awards, and iter8’s customer, York Fire and Casualty, received a Best In Class award for the implementation of real-time policy change processing through its broker portal.
In the past, the biggest challenge for iter8 has been to get P&C firms to adopt technology quickly enough to catch up with competitors in the financial industry, says Piller. To meet this challenge iter8 has positioned itself as an extension of the P&C industry.
“We recruit and employ insurance subject matter experts so that we are in constant communication with the industry to identify what their software needs are,” says Piller.
Within the last two years, uptake of technology in the P&C industry has increased rapidly. With it has come a new challenge for iter8.
“We have had to significantly expand our human resources department,” says Piller. He says the company is contributing significant resources on recruitment, training and performance management of existing employees.
iter8 expects to see an increasing rate of adoption of commercial line innovations, mobile capacity, and broker-to-consumer technologies, enough to keep the firm busy for the next five years.
Headquarters: 393 University Ave, Suite 1811, Toronto, ON M5G 1E6
Copyright 2011 Rogers Publishing Ltd. This article first appeared in the February 2011 edition of Canadian Insurance Top Broker magazine.