I love spreadsheets. I was weaned on Lotus 1-2-3, a master Quattro Pro user (including their macro language), and now I’m a pretty fair expert on Excel. I can do just about anything in Excel (short of programming), and if I don’t have a formula that one must pull the formula bar down four rows to view it entirely, then I feel incomplete. It gives me the ability to be as flexible and creative with data as I need to be, without the constraints of programming and design limitations. So, when my Megalodon colleagues and I see captive managers using numerous spreadsheets for rating or program design, we understand.
And we see a LOT of it. Spreadsheets satisfy the need for flexibility and creativity that most insurance software can’t handle, even as captive owners receive extraordinary risk strategies and service. What the owners don’t see, though, are the gyrations and contortions going on behind the scenes to generate the documents that so simply and clearly tell them what they’ve purchased. The data from the spreadsheet must be stored somewhere, and it must be aggregated, sorted, extracted, pooled, positioned and PDF’d over and over again. Historical data must be maintained; claims need to be validated and allocated against it; and, more often than not, the data itself must be re-validated. Two or three other software systems (such as SalesForce, ACT! and/or Access) are often involved, as is, of course, Word. Do your clients issue policies to a few thousand insureds? Does your company manage a couple hundred captives? ‘Gyrations and contortions’ might be too benign a description of your operations.
There are some companies that are satisfied moving at a very controlled pace. The flexibility required to build complex one-off programs isn’t their forte. They may be very successful at what they do, and satisfied with the results they get, because that’s what their clients want. The rest, though, need something different. The system needs to manage the data, yes, but it must control myriad many-to-many relationships, and multiple roles for individuals and entities, and numerous configurations of reinsurance and insuring vehicles along with literally hundreds of coverages and insureds. There aren’t many solutions for that.
What if an insurance/captive management system had a better way to manage all the above? We’ve tried to come up with a metaphor to describe what that would be like. Maybe an iron skillet, where you turn up the heat, and then just add ingredients until the concoction creates an irresistible aroma. Or, maybe Bugs Bunny rustling up a salad for the Tasmanian Devil (don’t forget the TNT). Or – and we like this one – a playground, where the possibilities for the imagination to wander are infinite. And what if that playground allowed the captive manager to create a risk plan or model, and then tweak it to create a few ‘what if’ scenarios so that you can select the one that suits your client best? That would be a very powerful (and fun!) playground.
But, let’s be honest: We love our spreadsheets, and we will always be attached to them. We will hate to see them go, and we will miss them terribly. But cheer up! Our lives will be so much easier without them. Honest. It’s time to be done with spreadsheets!
~ Bill Montei, CEO, founded Megalodon Insurance Systems with a simple yet BIG idea: provide small and mid-sized insurance companies powerful policy & claims management software solutions at a price that is within reach. To talk to Bill directly, please call: (608) 709-2154.