Employers centralize insurance applications on Red Hat OpenShift

To compete in an increasingly digital marketplace, workers’ compensation insurance company Employers sought to streamline its business processes. The company decided to create a central application environment with Red Hat OpenShift and automate policy processes with Red Hat management and middleware solutions. Now, Employers has a foundation for agile and responsive workflows, resulting in a 40% increase in sales over three years and a more efficient customer experience. Guidance from Red Hat technology experts helps employers continue to find new opportunities to innovate and outpace their competition.

Delivering services at the speed of digital commerce

Since 1913, Employers has been helping America’s small businesses meet their workers’ compensation insurance needs. Its parent group, Employers Holdings, operates in 46 US states and more than 30 industries.

As in many other industries, the insurance market is moving towards digital business and service delivery. This shift is creating opportunities, but established organizations like employers are facing new competition from traditional and fintech vendors.

Employers recognized they needed a more efficient delivery approach. Its existing processes relied on legacy applications and required frequent manual intervention, delaying delivery to underwriters, claims representatives, agents and other customers.

Jeff Shaw, Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer at Employers

“It took nine months to deliver a major IT project. A long timeline limits our ability to keep pace with the digital marketplace,” said Jeff Shaw, executive vice president and chief information officer at Employers. “Our customers don’t want to worry about their insurance – they want to focus on their business. With our digital strategy, we want to get information to our agents and customers as quickly and efficiently as possible. »

To continue supporting mission-critical legacy applications while building new digital solutions, employers decided to migrate from their existing IT infrastructure to a central, scalable, and responsive cloud environment, backed by automation capabilities and a on microservices.

Adapt processes to market changes with Red Hat OpenShift

After evaluating several proprietary and open source solutions, employers decided to work with trusted vendor Red Hat to create a modern digital services environment. Employers has successfully used Red Hat Enterprise Linux for several years and chose to build their new IT infrastructure using Red Hat OpenShift, running on Amazon Web Services (AWS).

“Compared to the competition, Red Hat really was the obvious choice,” Shaw said. “With the option of technical account manager support and consulting services, Red Hat offers the full package companies need to succeed with new technologies and approaches.”

Red Hat OpenShift is an enterprise Kubernetes container platform for reliable operations and management in on-premises, cloud, and edge environments. It automates the installation, upgrades, and lifecycle management of container infrastructure.

In addition to Red Hat OpenShift, employers have adopted several management solutions from Red Hat to further simplify processes and accelerate service delivery:

  • Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform, to simplify and streamline business processes with human-readable language and reusable playbooks.
  • Red Hat Decision Manager automates business rule management, resource optimization, and complex event processing (CEP) for rapid updates to business rules as market conditions change.
  • Red Hat Smart Management to provision and manage Red Hat Enterprise Linux hosts, including release maintenance.
  • Red Hat Insights identifies and remediates security risks.

Working side-by-side with Red Hat consultants, the employers completed the implementation of Red Hat OpenShift and associated management solutions in just three months, including a quote engine built with Decision Manager that manages 19,000 distinct rules. All new applications are now built in this environment.

Increase revenue and improve customer experience with an agile approach

40% increase in new sales with faster time to market and new lines of business

By standardizing processes and applications in its new Red Hat OpenShift environment, Employers improved delivery times to sales agents and customers.

This efficiency has helped employers take advantage of new business opportunities. For example, faster quote generation means the business can now compete on comparison shopping aggregator websites. Employers have also introduced a new open application programming interface (API) to integrate with insurance technology (insurtech) companies.

Supported by these new sources of revenue, the company’s new sales have increased by 40% in three years, and the number of quote requests received and processed has increased by 80%.

“Without this speed, we would have been completely shut out of the insurtech market. The introduction of our API helped us generate approximately $40 million in additional revenue in this space in the first year and a half,” said Shaw said “We are seeing a real financial impact by providing a greater degree of customer self-service and helping our sales agents be more productive.”

Accelerated development with an agile and automated approach

A key part of this change in delivery gear is the adoption by employers of new development approaches such as DevOps and Agile, combined with simplified and automated insurance policy management.

By using Decision Manager’s Complex Event Processing (CEP) capabilities, employers have streamlined questions and eliminated manual underwriter review. As a result, its policy processing time went from 18 minutes to less than two minutes.

“Previously, we had to send an email for each recommendation and process each one manually. Now, through an online tool we created, agents and customers can complete many endorsements without our intervention,” Shaw said. “Our customers can now do business with us whenever they want, wherever they want.”

Back-end automation capabilities also contributed to faster delivery. The company uses Ansible Automation Platform to ensure configuration consistency and streamline host provisioning. The remote run feature allows employers to run ad hoc Ansible commands in bulk.

With these changes, Employers increased its workload from 85,000 insurance policies per year to 106,000 policies per year. Today, in a century-old company in a highly regulated industry, IT is seen as an advantage rather than a bottleneck.

“Working with Red Hat has changed the way we do business from a traditional waterfall approach to agile, iterative work and automation. Now we can push new features to our agents every two weeks – or every four weeks, depending on their preference – instead of every nine months, without increasing headcount,” Shaw said. “With IT now closely aligned with our business goals, many of our competitors are chasing us to catch up. in the digital space.

Improved infrastructure portability and disaster recovery with enterprise open source

With its new cloud and Kubernetes environment, Employers has taken a truly hybrid approach to IT infrastructure. Workloads can be hosted in various environments to optimize performance.

“All new development on Red Hat OpenShift takes place in a private AWS cloud, but we also have workloads and applications running in Microsoft Azure, IBM, and Oracle,” Shaw said. “We can choose the best cloud for the job.”

This portability has also helped employers improve their approach to disaster recovery. Previously, switching between its two data centers for backup took 48 hours. Now, with multiple availability locations and multiclustering capabilities, the business can more easily move workloads to respond to server failures. Additionally, Red Hat Insights and Ansible Automation Platform work together to automate remediation tasks.

“Before, stretch grouping was not possible,” Shaw said. “Now, with Red Hat OpenShift, we can easily migrate workloads while maintaining connections to other clusters on the original server. This is a huge benefit for business continuity and stability. »

Develop container, cloud, and Kubernetes skills with expert guidance from Red Hat Services

To support these new technologies and work approaches, employers worked closely with Red Hat Consulting in hands-on, side-by-side training and tasks. In addition to online training and sales workshops, Red Hat Consulting has incorporated guidance on DevOps practices from Red Hat Open Innovation Labs, a residency-style engagement where companies learn the skills to adapt to changing workflows. agile and iterative work.

“We had no experience with OpenShift or Kubernetes. If we had built our new infrastructure ourselves, it would have taken us a year to release our first application,” Shaw said. Red Hat consultants were a great way to get training and implement the platform quickly.

Additionally, employers work closely with a Red Hat Technical Account Manager (TAM) as a single point of contact for quick responses to technical questions and issues within their Red Hat environment.

Integration to further streamline operational efficiency

Employers plan to continue exploring new automation and integration opportunities to further streamline operations and stay ahead of competitors. The company plans to adopt new Red Hat solutions, such as Red Hat Fuse, a distributed integration platform that connects everything from legacy apps and APIs to partner networks and more.

“Going from nearly 20 minutes per quote to two minutes is a huge improvement, not just for our business but for the industry as a whole,” Shaw said. “The level of support we’ve received from Red Hat has been critical in helping us scale quickly and deliver value at the pace the market demands.

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