Motorists Insurance Group needed to upgrade its online customer portal to reduce IT costs, provide a secure single sign-on customer experience, and shift its IT resources toward more strategic projects. Using a customized F5 and Okta security solution in a hybrid, multi-cloud environment, the company was able to deliver a seamless experience to insurance agents and their clients.
Motorists Insurance Group is a group of insurance companies who’ve banded together so they can more efficiently sell their individual insurance policies across state lines. As the company grew through affiliations and acquisitions, each affiliate company brought its full technical portfolio with it—retaining its own billing system, claims system, policy system, and more. Each system also came with associated costs in maintenance, licensing, and professional services. As a result, Motorists’ IT environment quickly became large, complex, and hard to support.
The sprawling, disparate IT environment affected the customer experience as well. Customers—primarily independent insurance agents—found the existing online portal slow and cumbersome to use, because it required multiple sign-ons to several disconnected systems. “The faster and simpler your online portal is, the more likely it is that insurance agents will give you their clients’ business,” says Jason Wing, IT Workplace Services Manager at Motorists. “An agent doesn’t want to keep their clients waiting while a website loads. To stay competitive, we needed to improve our portal experience.”
Motorists decided to address these challenges by migrating to a single technology platform across the entire organization. The company had recently moved from running its operations from a single, on-premises data center to implementing a number of cloud-based technologies. This included migrating web content management for its agent portal to EpiServer (IaaS), and authentication services to Okta (IDaaS).
The IT team at Motorists envisioned a new agent portal that gave customers access to SSO capabilities which would span Episerver and the on-premises Guidewire InsuranceSuite application. Customers shouldn’t be able to tell that they were connecting with multiple disparate systems on the back end.
The technical requirements for the solution were:
The team’s main technical challenge lay in how to securely and seamlessly connect its cloud-based applications with Guidewire. To solve the problem, they formed a working group consisting of representatives from the company’s Network Engineering, Security Information Systems, Application and Security Architecture, and Application Development teams. They also brought in subject matter experts from F5 Networks, Okta, and F5 partner Nexum. F5 was a natural choice: Motorists had worked with F5 for years, and its BIG-IP solutions were a central part of its infrastructure.
This diverse, integrated team met onsite at Motorists for two days in a whiteboarding session that would determine the direction and architectural layout of the new solution.
After considering several possible approaches to the project’s technical challenges, the team designed a custom multi-cloud solution to meet Motorists’ needs. With the new solution, a customer signs onto the online portal using Okta and a Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) token passes from Okta to F5’s BIG-IP Access Policy Manager. There, a custom iRule generates a JSON token with the key attributes required by Episerver, granting appropriate access to the variety of systems on the back end. The customer only sees a clean, modern, login screen, followed by a single page delivering the application access they require.
In April 2017, the network engineering team successfully tested the new solution using F5 BIG-IP 2000 IP Application Switch devices. Later that month, they deployed the solution to a production environment and began rolling out the new portal to pilot agencies that May.
The new solution runs in production on a pair of F5 BIG-IP 5250v chassis leveraging Virtual Clustered Multiprocessing (vCMP) technology. During development, the solution expanded beyond BIG-IP Local Traffic Manager to include additional application protection with BIG-IP Application Security Manager. Motorists’ environment also runs BIG-IP 4000 series and 2000 series platforms, and has numerous BIG-IP Virtual Edition Lab licenses.
“We had the option of deploying the virtual BIG-IP solution on-premises or in Microsoft Azure, so we did a proof of concept to see what the latency would be like if we were to use F5 in the cloud,” says Wing. “We weighed the benefits, and decided to maintain a hybrid environment using an on-premises F5 solution along with Episerver in the cloud. Seamlessly connecting all these elements was the biggest hurdle we faced, and the ability to customize with iRules was a huge part of building a multi-cloud solution that met our needs.”
By connecting cloud and on-premises services using BIG-IP Access Policy Manager and Okta, Motorists was able to achieve its goals on time and under budget. The company can reallocate its IT resources toward more strategic projects, stay competitive by providing an exceptional portal experience for its customers, and realize significant IT savings.
“The organization will see a drop in support requests as more agents use the new portal,” says Wing. As a result, he says the team can shift its focus away from day-to-day troubleshooting for customers — a task that previously consumed hours of work every week — and toward planning and executing more strategic projects.
Staying competitive in the insurance field often means being the first to get independent insurance agents the rates and policies that fit the needs of their clients. Motorists went from a portal with multiple logins for disparate legacy systems to a seamless, more efficient agent experience. As a result, the company can be confident they’ll remain a go-to insurance provider to their primary customers.
Recent customer surveys show a Customer Satisfaction score of 6.86 out of 10. Agents left positive comments about the new portal experience:
“Always a good experience and response times are typically faster than the rest of our carriers!”
“Easiest policy I've issued in a long time! Real Time issue is great as I can deliver the policy and close out my suspense folders.”
“System worked great. Smooth as silk.”
Eliminating what the team referred to as "technical debt"- IT costs incurred whenever Motorists added an insurance company to the group - was one of the principal goals of the migration project. The company reports it is on track to realize that goal.
"We estimate that the new solution, with GuideWire at its core and F5 and Okta connecting the customer on the front end, could potentially lead to more than $14 million in technology and support savings," says Steve Wieland, AVP of Enterprise Architecture at Motorists. "Platform retirements may increase that by another $6 million.