Case Study: Intervate assists Santam to close the ‘intermediary’ gap with its Extranet Broker Portal

06 March 2015 Santam

Santam focuses on design-led thinking and agile development – to create an intuitive digital interface for its network of insurance intermediaries.


Santam is one of South Africa’s largest and most historic insurance companies. Majority-owned by the Sanlam Group, Santam’s base of customers represents a 22% market share in the local short-term insurance market.

Having first opened its doors 96 years ago, Santam Commercial and Personal Business continues to successfully leverage an intermediary-based model to enhance its reach and scalability. It operates four primary business units: Santam Commercial and Personal, Santam Specialist, MiWay, and Santam Re (encompassing Santam Emerging Markets).

Over its nearly century-long existence, Santam’s philosophy has been to contribute in shoring up the bedrock of the South African economy. Santam believes the stability of our economy requires a robust, inclusive and responsible short-term insurance industry, where policyholders get real value.

The challenge

With such a strong emphasis on the network of intermediaries, Santam required a digital solution to facilitate the interactions between intermediaries and the company.

The key requirement was for intermediaries to easily, immediately and cost-effectively manage their customers’ portfolios – preferably in a self-service manner. The main activities include:

• Managing existing customers’ portfolios – such as updating policies and customer details
• Processing claims on behalf of customers

Previously, intermediaries were required to either call into Santam’s contact centre, or submit claims via fax. Many of these interactions were simple “low value, high volume” activities that created an operational headache for Santam, increased costs, and lengthened fulfilment timelines.

In other cases, certain intermediaries were accessing the Santam mainframe directly – which was not a user-friendly solution, created unnecessary complexity, and posed vulnerability problems.

The solution

Santam took a broad, enterprise-wide view of its IT environment. It decided to hinge its modernisation programme on three flagship projects: Upgrading the mainframe computing system (using Guidewire as the policy management platform), integrating Microsoft Dynamics CRM, and building a new Web-based Extranet for all intermediary interactions.

It selected Intervate to develop the Extranet portal – using SharePoint 2010 to expose a number of enterprise services in an intuitive interface available to intermediaries from anywhere in the world. The portal was launched in April 2014 in a gala event with intermediaries and business partners.

Intervate was selected due to its pedigree in developing great SharePoint user experiences, combined with its skills in responsive design, and in developing transactional systems on top of the SharePoint platform.

At the heart of the solution lies an enterprise service bus (ESB) which pulls together 16 disparate systems, unifying and then surfacing them in a user-friendly and highly secure way via the Extranet. This form of SOA-based implementation means intermediaries are able to access a wide range of services – from booking new business, to modifying policies, to submitting and tracking claims.

It also provides an enabling environment for rapidly rolling out new features and applications in the future, to cater for a dynamic and increasingly competitive industry. With the Extranet’s sophisticated security and auditing capabilities, Santam also ensures full compliance with the stringent regulations governing financial services.

The results

Creating this Extranet portal sent a very clear message to intermediaries: that Santam is committed to, and serious about, the intermediated model. It is now able to cater for every type of intermediary – from the most traditional type that prefers telephonic or paper-based engagements, to the most digitally-savvy that enjoys the convenience of the self-service portal.

Santam’s Michael Probyn says that within just the first six months, 84% of its intermediaries had registered on the portal. “The adoption has been fantastic. We spent a lot of time conducting workshops with some of our intermediaries from the very earliest stages of wireframes, all the way through to the final development.”

“It is a very client-centric solution. We placed a major focus on usability and design, and in ensuring that we were addressing the intermediaries’ needs,” he adds. A keen focus on responsive design means that the Extranet services are easily available on desktops, laptops, and tablets.

Probyn notes that key features will be extended down to the world of smartphones in the near future – further increasing the levels of convenience and mobility.

Chantel Louw from Innofin – a intermediary that has been involved in the Extranet project since the early pilot phase – says the service has transformed the way they do business. “The design is very modern – it’s characterised by a much cleaner look, and much simpler experience. Whether we’re amending policy details, generating calculations of client assets, or anything else, everything is always just one click away. It is extremely easy to navigate through client portfolios – and instantly see everything in that client’s portfolio and his historical records”.

Louw says that Innofin’s costs have decreased – since processes can now be completed far quicker, and there is no need for calling in or completing manual documents.

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