Annual financial plan: speed, accuracy, confidence
Infinity Property and Casualty Insurance turns to SAS® for streamlined financial planning
Thanks to the presence of numerous underwriting companies and a favorable regulatory climate, the automobile insurance industry is one of the most competitive sectors in consumer financial services. But Infinity Property and Casualty Insurance benefited using SAS® Financial Management to build accurate plans and generate detailed analytics to steer the business on a profitable course.
From its roots as the Dixie Insurance Co. in 1955, Infinity Property and Casualty Insurance has forged an enviable track record of customer satisfaction and financial performance. Infinity has become the fourth-largest writer of non-standard automobile insurance through independent agents in the nation.
According to Gena Woodfield, Assistant Vice President of Management Reporting, the previous planning process wasn’t as fast or comprehensive enough, given the firm’s growth. “With different people in different locations, it was very disjointed,” she said. “We had to manually gather information and consolidate data across dozens of spreadsheets and enter that information into the legacy system.”
For Vijay Chennur, Pricing Manager, the challenge revolved around efficiently contributing to the planning process. "Before, we had to submit this data in a series of Excel spreadsheets, which was a time-consuming and error-prone process," he said. "That data was then passed to the management reporting team for roll-up in the centralized system."
One crucial requirement for Infinity was the ability to perform extensive overhead allocations across multiple departments. “Expenses are allocated among underwriting, claims and so forth,” Woodfield said. “This data is further subdivided by product group, state, company, product, new/renewal, and sales channel. We end up with about 1,500 allocations – but our data volumes and processing intensity were outstripping the abilities of our legacy solution.”
We're now able to create a truly bottom-up, detailed business plan that reflects all expenses and efficiently rolls up into a single, unified budget.
Seeking a better way
Infinity wasn't able to manage its increasing data volumes in either traditional Microsoft Access processes or other ad hoc applications like Outlook Software and began searching for a solution to strengthen data access and manipulation, as well as aggregation, modeling, reporting and distribution.
"We felt that additional revenue growth could be targeted and captured with qualitative data handling and analysis at lowest grain backed by some smarter pricing strategies," said Chennur. "Solving these challenges was the top priority for our management teams."
The search led Infinity to SAS Financial Management, a comprehensive solution for enterprise planning, budgeting, consolidation and reporting. With a proprietary calculation engine and accounting logic, SAS Financial Management consolidates planning or historical information, ensuring the latest information is always available for decision makers.
A faster, more efficient and more accurate planning cycle
The annual planning cycle at Infinity often lasted many months. "Last year, we cut it by two months," said Woodfield, "and this year, we're aiming to improve our record over last year. We would like to periodically reforecast our expenses and plan to use SAS to keep our business on course."
"We now create a truly bottom-up, detailed business plan that reflects all expenses and efficiently rolls up into a unified budget," said Chennur. "With more granular information, our 75 users are able to create more accurate forecasts. And we're doing it faster, so executives can make decisions sooner."
According to Woodfield, SAS has been an ideal fit for Infinity's budgeting process. "We were looking for a tighter process and a tighter outcome," she said. "We are now able to extend the process to more users and capture their data. SAS helps us shorten the budgetary process while improving the results. Our ROI in productivity improvement is strong enough. But it really grows when you factor in the softer components: earlier access to financial data that enables smarter and faster decisions. It's clear that SAS has been a key enabler of our business as we pursue top-line growth."
A top leader in property and casualty insurance needed smarter, faster ways to prepare its annual financial plan, including more than 1,500 expense allocations. The goals were to produce plans faster, increase forecast accuracy and accelerate better business decisions.
More efficient allocation process resulted in a 50 percent reduction in budget planning cycles; greater accuracy and quicker information delivery allows executives to make smarter, faster business decisions.