Bear River Mutual Replaces On-Premise Core with Duck Creek Suite OnDemand

The carrier undertook its core replacement and adoption of SaaS core systems to keep pace with competitive imperatives.

(Image credit: Tyler Moore.)

Bear River Mutual Insurance, a Murray, Utah-based personal lines insurer, has selected the Duck Creek Suite to advance its digital transformation. The carrier chose Duck Creek Policy, Rating, Billing, Claims, and Insights to replace on-premises core systems acquired from multiple vendors, with an objective of increased efficiency and scalability–made possible with Duck Creek OnDemand, the provider’s SaaS solution for the P&C insurance industry, according to a Duck Creek statement.

“Having replaced our core systems and developed custom portals for our agents and customers over the last 10 years, we learned quite a bit about what drives value in the core and where we should be focusing our resources,” comments Brian Long, VP, IT, Bear River Mutual. “We knew that we needed to make a change, and that SaaS was a critical requirement.”

Bear River Mutual’s core systems replacement initiative was driven by concerns that portions of its core systems would limit its ability to compete in the market, as well as an understanding that never-ending custom development is not an activity that they want to engage in, affirms Long. Having implemented on-premises claims, policy, and billing systems, along with externally-facing applications, the insurer faced numerous challenges making them work in an increasingly customer-centric business. Those challenges were compounded by a high cost of upgrades that required staffing well beyond that of their internal resources. In addition, while their custom-built UX was designed to offer superior customer experiences, they found that duplication of rules and custom middleware were regularly needed to provide the level of services they expect to deliver to their stakeholders.

Karen Furtado, Partner, SMA.

To alleviate these issues, and to eliminate the need for complex coding projects resulting from insufficient configuration tools and core system services that did not fit their needs, Bear River Mutual chose to implement a tightly-integrated suite of core systems built on a highly-configurable, open platform architecture. Further, to ensure seamless upgrades over time, they opted to take delivery of the Duck Creek Suite via the vendor’s OnDemand SaaS solution. This will give Bear River Mutual the ability to focus its resources on customer experiences and insurance product innovation, while efforts such as hosting, maintenance, and upgrades are handed off to the Duck Creek OnDemand team.

“The key trend of cloud-based core system buying has continued to strengthen over the past year, with 75 percent of insurers making similar decisions,” comments Karen Furtado, Partner at Strategy Meets Action. “Insurers that are turning to cloud-based applications such as Duck Creek OnDemand are looking to improve their speed of implementation, lessen the complexity of maintenance, and focus their efforts on differentiating products and services they bring to market.”

In commenting on Bear River Mutual’s adoption of SaaS systems, Long notes lessons learned about the drawbacks of on-premise solutions:

  • They result in taking on significant technical debt in order to leverage connected services;
  • The resource requirement for routine maintenance and upgrades is a continual drag on carrier innovation; and
  • Some vendors have gates to features and functions at the expense of the carrier having to take on significant complexity as opposed to fully-baked solutions.

    Andy Dey, Chief Product and Technology Officer, Duck Creek Technologies.

“We also learned that developers are creative at finding ways to write code rather than staying within configuration as soon as obstacles are presented, making the robustness of the configuration tools very important,” Long adds. “Our key evaluation criteria included a deep look at the capabilities of configuration tools. Of the 16 vendors and 18 solutions we explored, we believe the Duck Creek Suite OnDemand is the most comprehensive answer to these issues. In many cases, the separation between Duck Creek and other solutions was substantial.”

The Market’s Move from On-Premise to SaaS Applications

“This core systems replacement represents a significant shift for Bear River Mutual and is yet another signal that the market is moving firmly away from on-premises applications to SaaS,” comments Andy Dey, Chief Product and Technology Officer, Duck Creek Technologies. “Duck Creek OnDemand will let Bear River Mutual focus on the right challenges—growing its book of business and building the new products and customer experiences their policyholders expect—while our team handles day-to-day IT operations and application upgrades for them behind the scenes. We are happy to welcome Bear River Mutual to the Duck Creek family and look forward to helping them continue to grow and succeed.”

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Anthony R. O’Donnell // Anthony O'Donnell is Executive Editor of Insurance Innovation Reporter. For nearly two decades, he has been an observer and commentator on the use of information technology in the insurance industry, following industry trends and writing about the use of IT across all sectors of the insurance industry. He can be reached at or (503) 936-2803.

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