FAST: Pushing the Envelope of Insurance beyond Digital

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The insurer of the future will look drastically different from today's humdrum insurance carriers that are driven by manual underwriting and pricing operations. Technology will not only play a critical role in changing the dynamics of the relationship between an insurer and the insured but also help in fundamentally shifting insurance’s mantle in everyday life. Instead of lingering as a backend purchase, insurance—pertaining to home, health, travel, as well as life insurance and other annuities—will have the potential to become a major partaker in the frontend business ecosystem. The question, however, remains: how are the forward-looking insurers embracing this seismic, technology-driven shift while ensuring innovation and business agility?

"Today, organizations of all sizes, seeking an efficient policy administration system, ride on FAST’s coattails to eliminate the complexity arising from traditional IT systems"

Here are a few instances: Imagine a travel enthusiast booking his first skiing experience. While making prearrangements for the ski trip online, the traveler receives an option to select a disability insurance coverage plan—a part of the trip package—to prepare for any unforeseen mishap. In this scenario, insurance is sold as an allied benefit with the travel experience, rather than a standalone product. In another instance, consider a consumer purchasing a car and signing up for auto insurance. Instead of selecting any random plan, the car owner receives assistance from the insurance company to choose a plan appropriate for his needs. The company gathers key information about the car’s usage—weather conditions in which the car travels, local traffic patterns, and distance covered regularly—through the car’s sensors, and suggests the most suitable insurance plans. Here, insurance companies leverage several technologies such as IoT and data analytics to promote their packages. All these ideas seem quite interesting, right? New Jersey-based insurance tech solution provider FAST—fascinated to usher a new horizon for insurance companies—is working unstintingly every day to make these unique insurance distribution models a reality.

A fusion of robust software solution and deep expertise in technology and insurance processing, FAST—Flexible Architecture, Simplified Technology—is on a mission to redefine the traditional insurance norms and practices, helping insurers prepare for the future. Elaborating further on the company’s goal, Tom Famularo, co-founder and CEO of FAST states, “For many years, insurance companies have been looking across the chasm into the future, wanting to be in the digital world.” And yet, the complicated and expensive digital transformation schemes, coupled with uncertainty about the future insurance products, make companies dubious of embracing the change. “This is where we have been able to make a world of difference in the insurance industry,” says Famularo. Staying true to its name, FAST, with the help of its complete suite of business process driven pre-configured software components and an agile development methodology, takes the risk out of implementations, and offers a solution that is flexible to create innovative insurance products, automate business processes, and reduce the time taken to build future-proof insurance software. “We bring true business agility that cuts down the implementation time from 12 months to three months and reduces cost by 75 percent,” reflects Famularo.

The Dawn of Modern Insurance

Famularo point outs three unique facets of FAST that help steer the company ahead of the competition: a robust and automated software development framework, a proprietary software configuration and delivery approach, and the company’s pool of insurance tech experts. The combination of these three elements, according to Famularo, serves as a testament to the company’s out-of-the-box approach for transforming the legacy systems in the insurance industry.

Modern policy admin systems should allow all custom needs to be implemented through user friendly configuration tools rather than changing software code

“FAST—unlike other insurance tech solution providers—is a proponent of product innovation and flexibility. On average, 78 cents of every dollar spent by our clients are used for patching the legacy systems and innovating insurance products, truly enabling digitalization,” Famularo adds. Discussing in detail, he says, “Insurance companies have always implemented off-the-shelf solutions that offer numerous functionalities because they are fast and easy to adopt. However, realistically, this approach has not been able to meet the precise needs of companies.” FAST solves this problem by offering numerous configuration tools with their pre-defined insurance software modules. This plug-and-play approach delivers targeted and yet comprehensive end-to-end solutions for core functional areas in the insurance realm. “Orchestrating a unique solution using our software development framework is much like using Lego bricks to construct a structure,” explains Famularo.

Complementing this service-oriented architecture (SOA), FAST employs a distinctive permutation of scaled agile framework and lean processing to come up with a quick incremental build model. Substantiating the supremacy of this model, Famularo explains, “Most insurance companies are unclear about their digital transformation journey. So, instead of asking them about their expectations, we come with a fully-baked, end-to-end set of processes. In a day’s session, we gather all the important information about the company’s product specifications and, based on this knowledge, we collate pre-configured modules to offer a system that looks and feels like it is custom-made for the client. Alongside, we use our built-in software governance model to track and trace different rules and configurability parameters of the software, so that we can deploy the solution seamlessly and much faster.” As the company continues using the software, they start understanding and prioritizing future requirements, which are then incrementally added to the software. Making use of this development and delivery approach, FAST maintains a record of deploying software 10 to 15 times faster than traditional insurance solution vendors.

The Underlying Architecture

What makes FAST’s solutions “out-of-the-ordinary” in the insurance landscape is its powerful software. To explain the architecture of the software, Famularo breaks it down into three layers. The bottom layer constitutes the technology platform that is specifically designed for the insurance industry. This platform allows configuration of products, business processes, rules and calculations, and everything that goes into building the business logic of core insurance software. The second layer is the actual insurance software. All the processes— policy management, claims, billing, and transactions—are managed through this interface. The topmost layer is FAST’s cloud services. Leveraging this layer, companies can build new products from scratch or use the tools to migrate their existing solutions to cloud within hours.

Policy Administration Systems that make a Difference

Famularo notes that most insurance and annuities businesses, today, are seated atop legacy IT systems that often depend on a patchwork of software from multiple vendors.

To make the system more coalesced, insurance companies require a dynamic policy administration system with a modular architecture. “Modern policy administration systems should possess the capability of managing benefits, underwriting, commissions, and a host of other necessary activities tied together,” elucidates Famularo. With an SOA-based development model that supports rapid integration, FAST is best-suited to handle this job. Offering flexible and limitless product structure, FAST allows an insurance company to intertwine their different pre-configured business processes—currently offering more than 80 modules—to build a policy administration system that fits all requirements.

“We do not stop there; we go deeper with the product itself,” adds Famularo. FAST has the capacity to constantly explore new business areas of their clients, and integrate those additional models within the policy administration system. For instance, Famularo notes that today there are many multi-line insurance companies that have expanded their offerings beyond just general and life insurance into auto insurance. FAST can use their underlying product configuration and SOA model to support multi-line insurance companies in integrating the new business models. The most important aspect is that FAST can manage these multiple areas of a company’s insurance offerings with straight-through-processing and no data redundancy; the information is stored in a shared rather than copied model. Put simply, the insurance carrier can use the same policy information system to manage the lifecycle of different insurance policies, whether it is a whole life policy, short-term general insurance, or yearly-renewable auto insurance.

Today, organizations of all sizes, seeking an efficient policy administration system, ride on FAST’s coattails to eliminate the complexity arising from traditional IT systems. Recalling a customer success story, Famularo cites that one of their clients was able to double their business from $5 billion to $10 billion premium. The company achieved this by implementing FAST’s solutions and incorporating two additional operations staff to its 60-strong team.

Flexible Solution at a Flexible Price

While innovation has been the cornerstone of FAST’s journey, its flexible pricing structure has been one of the strongest pillars sustaining the company’s enduring accomplishments. Charging clients an affordable monthly subscription fee, Famularo says, “We are flexible enough to offer our solutions to startups as well as some very large business organizations. Bigger companies find our offerings more feature-packed at a lesser cost, and small-scale companies ascribe our solutions as well-priced and within their budget.” FAST’s license usually starts at a highly discounted value, wherein the clients are only paying for the limited solutions and services that they are availing. And as the company keeps growing and utilizing additional services, the value of the license also keeps increasing. “From a financial perspective, we align our success with our client’s success,” adds the CEO.

Staying One Step Ahead, Every Time

Advancing into the future, FAST is committed to tirelessly pushing the envelope of insurance solutions as a whole. In this past year, the company partnered with Amazon Web Services to release a plethora of SaaS services that would power their policy administration systems in the cloud. This year, Famularo predicts greater traction toward microservices to aid existing systems or to revamp antiquated systems. “Business analysts and actuaries can create new product ideas or business processes without touching a single line of code,” reveals Famularo. Aligning with this growth and embracing several other promising technologies, FAST intends to take the insurance industry by storm in the coming years.

- Pooja Ray
    March 29, 2019