The Silicon Review
“We want to level the playing field for small and mid-market companies by providing access to the highest quality digital technologies at the most affordable investment price in the marketplace.”
Based in Henderson, Nevada, CHSI Technologies may have had humble beginnings, but its trajectory is certain: to be the leader in hosted management solutions for the small (Tier 4) insurance market.
In 2005, CHSI Technologies’ founder and CEO Jim Leftwich, was running a management services company and recognized the critical need for reliable, integrated core systems that provided for the management and administration of self-insured groups (SIGs), risk retention groups and insurance captives. Back then, the needs were simply to improve his staff’s ability to underwrite and manage multiple SIGs and captives while improving service to the thousands of SIG members and policyholders. Leftwich knew they needed the right technology to reduce redundancy of staff work and streamline operations.
So, following a futile two-year search for an affordable software system with the flexibility and configurability to be used in a variety of different insurance environments, Leftwich decided to pool his own investment of a just over $9 million with a couple of other partners, and build a suite of insurance modules on a Software as a Service (SaaS) platform that would “connect” with the most disparate of systems such as accounting, third-party administrators, banking and office applications currently in use by most small insurance organizations.
This effort resulted in the 2010 launch of its flagship product, Connections®, which was built by insurance program administrators for insurance program administrators, and included modules for CRM, policy administration, underwriting, quoting module and billing, along with integration tools for banking, accounting, claims, and other outsides services or tools. Connections® was built with the unique technology requirements of SIGs, captives, small traditional insurance carriers, mutual companies and public risk-sharing pools such as joint power authorities in mind—organizations Leftwich believes represent an underserved market that is ripe for growth and ready to leverage the full potential that digital technologies can deliver.
“Small insurers are of enormous benefit to the hundreds of thousands of businesses that transfer risk through them annually,” notes Leftwich. “By building next-gen digital software that is within financial reach of small insurers, and making it available through a SaaS platform, the company contributes to the overall health of the ecosystem, and small businesses everywhere by extension.”
A Winning Strategy
Much of CHSI’s success is attributed to its people and its culture. As a young start-up, Leftwich and his team experienced their share of challenges, and devoted blood, sweat and tears to creating a company that would ultimately develop the right platform and technologies to best service this unique niche market. “Looking back, we used the learnings from those trials to help inform decisions going forward,” recalls Leftwich.
The company garnered the support of out-of-the-box thinkers who were willing to devote the time and extraordinary effort to creating an outstanding product—and then, over time, continued to develop and enhance that product based on feedback from their growing cache of customers. Many of these individuals still remain with CHSI, a testament to the Leftwich’s personal philosophy: The business is built on the work of your employees, and employees are people, so treat them as you would treat a customer—with reverence and appreciation. “Any other company can out-pay us for an open position,” Leftwich says. “But it’s our work environment, diversity and our respect for each other that keeps turnover low, and institutional knowledge high.”
CHSI also recognizes the importance of the phrase “know thy customer,” and considers trust as the cornerstone of CHSI’s relationship with its insurance clients, which is evidenced by the early adopters who still consider CHSI a value-added partner.
Another part of CHSI’s winning strategy entails a keen understanding of their customers’ budgetary concerns. Just prior to its official founding in 2010 when a grim economic outlook gripped the entire country as well as insurance industry, CHSI became keenly aware that policies, products and services were being commoditized. Small insurers didn’t have the luxury of receiving the financial bailouts afforded AIG and the banking system. It didn’t take long to see that we needed a blue-ocean strategy: develop expensive software and make it affordable for the underserved market that we serve,” notes Leftwich.
As a result, CHSI prices Connections® in a modular fashion, enabling the customer to license only those features and components that best serves their current objectives. As the customer grows, they can add other modules and features as their business needs evolve. This approach ensures that small insurers can stick to their core competencies while enjoying the benefits of having digital technologies that serve as an integrated workforce multiplier… in other words, higher, easier output - at a lower cost of operation.
On the product side, Connections® is now offered as a fully functioning core enterprise system on a cloud platform, and CHSI continues to add features, tools, and modules to the system, such as analytics and business intelligence, document management, a loss control safety inspection tool for risk assessment called Evaluate, and other user-friendly features.
CHSI continues to control its organic growth based on its ability to match resources, so the company has been inclined to grow incrementally rather than in leaps and bounds. This managed growth philosophy also applies to CHSI’s approach to the marketplace, where “word of mouth” growth has paid off.
Accelerating to Great
In 2017, CHSI Technologies was honored with the “US Captive Award” for technology as selected by a panel of captive managers and administrators. In 2018, the company was included in a highly respected independent study of a Risk Management Information Systems (RMIS) study along with AIG, Travelers, Aon, Marsh and other competitors, and earned a #1 rating in “Customer Implementation Experience” and #1 in “Customer Service.” CHSI also had the second-highest Net Promoter Score amongst the study participants. “We believe that our commitment to the customer and their operations is second to none, and now we have an independent report that supports our belief,” says Leftwich.
Since the company’s official founding in 2010, CHSI has grown steadily to service more than 55 insurance entities with its digital technologies, and is keenly aware of its large market potential.
“We are on target to add another 10-15 insurance operations in 2018, proving that a smaller technology solutions provider with its eye on market potential is not at a disadvantage,” says Leftwich. “We are in the right place at the right time: The confluence of new digital technologies, market acceptance of cloud platforms, the massive retirement of Baby Boomers from the insurance industry, and our appearance in the marketplace as an affordable SaaS insurance technology and services provider will continue to drive adoption of our Connections® system.”
On track to make Connections® the customer-preferred and dominant product for the Tier-4 insurer community, CHSI expects that in two years it will be well on its way to achieve its anticipated goal.