ZIFFPAGE TITLEDrive for SpeedBy Baselinemag | Posted 2005-10-01 Email Print
Coventry First's specialty is buying life insurance policies from people nearing the end. Custom-built software helps the company calculate the right price, in about 3 seconds.
Drive for Speed
Originally, when Coventry First priced policies using formulas in Excel spreadsheets, a single pricing run could take 10 minutes. The company switched to a Visual Basic-based program that queries a Microsoft SQL Server database, and cut the processing time to 1.5 minutes per run. After constant fine-tuning, by going back through the code and optimizing specific routines, Coventry First has come down to the 3-second mark, running on Pentium 4 desktop computers with 1 gigabyte of memory.
Coventry First also digitizes documents, such as health records for individual policies, storing 3 trillion bytes of data on 18 servers in a data center at its headquarters. That greatly speeds up the document-retrieval process, allowing the company's staff to efficiently manage those 2,400 policies. "We are very much a paperless company," Muñiz says.
The company does use some off-the-shelf software, such as Microsoft's Great Plains accounting package and Exchange e-mail software. But Brecher, who's been with the company since it was founded, remains convinced that a big part of Coventry First's efficiency stems from its proprietary software.
Having custom-written code, he says, "allows us to implement features exactly how we want, where we want, and extremely quickly." For example, Brecher's team updated the policy management system a few years ago to automatically notify the payments group to double-check that a premium has been posted to a given account.
"We examine every little thing that every person here does," Brecher says, "and try to make it more efficient."
Coventry First 7111 Valley Green Rd., Fort Washington, PA 19034
Phone (215) 233-5100
Business Life insurancesettlements
Key Business Executive Alan H. Buerger, chief executive officer
Key Technology Executive Andrew Brecher, senior vice president, information technology
Revenue, 2004 $391 million
Revenue Per Employee $3.37 million
Challenge Accurately forecasting the expected return on investing in individual life insurance policies
Key Productivity Application Proprietary pricing software that analyzes policies based on an insured's life expectancy, written with Microsoft programming tools