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INTERVIEW: NetRate Delivers Custom Rating Solutions to MGAs, Carriers for Program Business

By Annie George

Posted on 19 Sep 2011

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This week we’re featuring our storefront, NetRate Systems, Inc., a company that primarily serves the MGA and small- to medium-sized carrier marketplace with ISO-based Commercial Lines Rating Programs and company-specific Personal Lines Rating Systems. Founded 14 years ago, NetRate has 16 employees and is based in Okemos, Michigan.

 We spoke to Tom Rahl, Vice President, Sales & Marketing, about the company’s product line, and its benefits to MGAs and carriers writing program business and specialty lines. Tom has been with NetRate for seven years, joining the company after having worked at IBM Global Services in their insurance practice. Prior to IBM, he worked with the current owners of NetRate in another rating-systems production company. He has been involved in the insurance rating world since 1979.

 “We focus on MGAs and small to mid-size carriers,” said Tom, “delivering a suite of rating products created by a seasoned staff who know the ins and outs of developing this vertical application. We offer a full line of rating programs that speak to each of the ISO-based lines of business primarily written in the MGA world, including Commercial Property, General Liability, Commercial Auto, Garage, Inland Marine, Crime, and BOP, along with NCCI Workers Compensation. Our programs are both web-based and client-server based.”

 And although NetRate’s programs are based on ISO rates and rules, Tom explained that embedded into their systems are characteristics that allow for the agility and customization typically required in program business. “In many instances, insurance programs are tailored by the MGAs and carriers with customized coverages and other features within the program to differentiate them and make them more attractive. Our systems accommodate this type of customization, unlike the many rating programs that exist which are designed for the retail agency market and are not equipped to handle these types of customization requests,” said Tom.

 “At NetRate, we encourage all of our customers to have the product customized. In fact, 100% of our customers have some level of customization built into their system. We’ll encourage them to take a look at the insurance programs they’re writing and the base system we offer and then let us know what we can do to accommodate their specific program.”

NetRate’s product suite includes:

 NetRate Rating: Carriers and MGAs can easily rate complex multi-state, multi-location monoline or package policies for any selected lines of business. The Windows-based Client/Server program includes a self-contained user interface that enables it to serve as a rating engine that can handle a policy’s transactional lifecycle. “This is especially important from an MGA’s or carrier’s standpoint,” said Tom, “because not only do they need to quote the business, but they also need to issue a policy, handle endorsements, cancellations, renewals, and other after-policy issues. This is built into the basic program.”

XML Import and Export: In the client-server based program as well as the web-based implementation, this module allows for integration between the NetRate rating system and third-party vendors for policy issuance, policy administration, or other back-end processes.

NetPPS (NetRate Policy Printing System): Recently, NetRate incorporated the natural progression of insurance rating into the next series of steps. “You can now take the data from the rating programs, and use our NetPPS policy printing system that incorporates ISO and company-specific forms, embeds business rules transparently, and produces policies,” said Tom. “You can go directly from quoting the business, move easily within a few keystrokes to binding the business, and from there the system will flood the appropriate rating data into the correct forms and produce the policy forms via electronic or printed format.”

NetSynergy: Provides powerful rating web services capabilities driven by XML input to allow for customer design of the web-based user interface screens. “When MGAs are developing web-based quoting tools for their retailers to access and use, NetSynergy gives them the capability to do so,” explained Tom. “An MGA has the ability to customize screens and focus on the look and feel of both the input and the results that will be produced, while we do the heavy lifting in the background with the NetSynergy rating engine.”

NetPOS: NetRate’s web user interface module and front-end to the NetSynergy Rating Engines, the NetPOS screens collect rating and risk data and submits it to the MGA to determine whether the account is an acceptable risk, and if so, submits it to the rating engine.

NetBIND: Provides the capability to store transactions in a “bound” status, serving to “lock down” rate versions, LCM versions, ILF factor versions, and all other quote data. This allows users to endorse, cancel, reinstate and renew a policy correctly without having to re-key information other than the policy changes. NetBind is incorporated in the Windows version of the NetRate Rating Systems.

NetStat: This module provides statistical information for MGAs and carriers using the ISO state code record layout.

NetRate Report Writer: Another new product, this takes data and incorporates it into XML, allowing MGA owners and managers to query the database of transactions and direct the system to produce reports such as sales levels and hit ratios.  The reports can be produced in Excel and in standard .pdf formats.

In addition to NetRate’s superior products and customization capabilities, Tom explained that the company provides the market with systems that are well priced. “Many MGAs have legacy systems for rating that are part of policy administration systems and as a result are using old technology, such as green-screen. Or, the MGAs are using retail agency systems for rating, which doesn’t serve them very well in terms of performing after-policy inception processing, endorsements, and renewal transactions. What’s more, these systems don’t allow for the customization they need for their specialty markets. The retail agency-type products are usually low in price and provide low functionality. At the other end of the spectrum, there is the tool-set approach, which requires a significant investment to support the programs and build the rating programs. We fit in the middle.

“We have an off-the-shelf product with functionality that is much superior to the retail products in terms of providing policy lifecycle processing, customization, and a highly evolved and flexible user interface. We have very high marks in terms of workflow and screen development in our rating system. Furthermore, we are much less expensive than the toolset approaches and, of course, we don’t require the same investment in terms of IT manpower. “

“We are not only a development shop at NetRate in terms of putting these programs together but we are also a full support company. If you’re a small MGA with a small IT department, you don’t necessarily have to have a staff performing a lot of update functionalities and setting up routines to keep your rating system going. We provide all the support in terms of ISO changes and ongoing updates.”

NetRate has replaced many legacy systems. “Our system is easily integrated into downstream systems, and we have a number of different business partners that have integrated our rating program to either their policy administration or policy production systems,” said Tom. “We have a great deal of flexibility and take pride in our ability to provide specialized development to support Program and Specialty business.”

If you’d like more information about NetRate and its suite of products specifically designed for MGAs and small- to medium-sized carriers, please contact Tom at 517.347.4900, ext. 113, or via email at: