Monday, June 8, 2009


Novarica, a research and advisory firm, has found that only 59% of insurer executives who have ranked the software products that they use would definitely buy their solution again. And for the 9% who would be unlikely to make the same decision again, the vendors’ failures to keep products current, align business goals, and ensure productive use by business users were largely to blame.

The new report, Insurance Technology Vendors Report Card 2009: Understanding Insurers’ Experience with Technology Vendors, which was announced Monday at the IASA Conference in Orlando, analyzes the aggregate responses of 285 insurer executives who completed surveys for Novarica ACE Ranking, which quantify the Average Customer Experience of insurers with specific technology products, ranging from policy administration systems to document management solutions and everything in between. The report, and individual rankings on more than 30 different products are available online at

“In aggregate, insurance software gets good, but not great, grades from its customers,” notes Matthew Josefowicz, director of the insurance practice at Novarica and originator of the Novarica ACE Rankings. “While 59% insurers ranking their software products would definitely buy them again, 41% range from muted enthusiasm to outright regret. Clearly there is room for improvement, both in insurer’s abilities to select partners that will deliver strong business results, and in vendor’s products and capabilities.”

The Novarica ACE Ranking survey asks the reference to rank his or her experience with the vendor and solution against various positive statements about customer experience. These 35 statements are grouped into Novarica’s four SOFT areas (Staff, Organization, Functionality, and Technology) as well as an additional area for Overall Customer Satisfaction, which is double-weighted in the average that creates the top-line score.

  • With Memorial Day weekend having recently passed and pools across the country opening, a new report (PDF) released by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) provides updated figures on child drowning deaths and injuries in pools and spas. CPSC’s latest data reveals that nearly 300 children younger than 5 drown in pools and spas each year, and about 3,000 suffer pool or spa-related injuries requiring attention at hospital emergency rooms.

About two-thirds of the pool and spa-related deaths and injuries involve children ages 1-2, with about 80% of the drowning fatalities occurring in residential settings, such as the victim’s home, a family or friend’s house or at a neighbor’s residence.

New data (PDF) from CPSC also shows that from 1999 through 2008, there were 83 reports of pool and spa entrapments, including 11 deaths and 69 injuries. Since 1999, 14% of the reported suction/entrapment incidents at pools or spas were fatal. The Pool and Spa Safety Act (P&SSAct) went into effect on Dec. 19, 2008 and requires all public pools and spas to have anti-entrapment drain covers, and in certain circumstances, an additional anti-entrapment system. CPSC has prioritized public wading pools, kiddie pools and in-ground spas as the key areas of focus for enforcement and has called upon state departments of health to assist the agency in enforcing the law.

CPSC is also announcing the launch of a new Web site - - which serves as a source for information about the P&SSAct and drowning prevention. The new site provides information for the general public, the swimming pool and spa community, state and local officials, and the media.

  • More than 1,100 insurance professionals have registered for a live Webcast set for Thursday, June 11, at 11 a.m. EDT. Due to demand, extra capacity is now available. The free event is a joint presentation of the A.M. Best Co. and the National Association of Professional Surplus Lines Offices (NAPSLO). Industry leaders will review the state of the market for specialty insurance in light of a new survey conducted by NAPSLO. Visit to register.

Participants in the one-hour discussion include:

Paul Springman, president and COO, Markel Corp
Marla Donovan, vice president, Burns & Wilcox
Kevin Westrope, president and CEO, Westrope
Richard Kerr, chairman and CEO, MarketScout Corporation
Duncan McColl of A.M. Best Co.’s Property/Casualty rating division

The panel will examine today’s market for specialty insurance, also known as surplus lines, excess and surplus, or non-admitted coverage. They will also survey pricing and availability, and changes in the financial strength of the specialty insurance sector of the property/casualty industry.

Best’s Review®, A.M. Best’s monthly news magazine, will cover this topic in the September issue and will feature content from the Webcast.

Topics covered in the panel discussion will include:

* The state of insurance capacity and the availability of various lines of coverage
* How terms and limitations may be changing for various lines of specialty coverage
* How pricing, availability and retention experience have been affected for insurance coverage of: property, catastrophe-exposed property, casualty, professional liability, directors and officers (both public and private), healthcare and medical liability, excess and umbrella, and environmental and transportation
* Financial strength of insurers serving the specialty lines industry

Registrants for the free event are encouraged to send in comments and questions for the discussion portion of the presentation. The Webcast will be available worldwide via a link provided upon registration.

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