Lou Balicki, Vice President of Information Systems, Century-National Insurance Company
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This profile was last updated on 1/22/14 and contains information from public web pages and contributions from the ZoomInfo community.
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Vice President of Information Sys...

Phone: (818) ***-****  HQ Phone
Email: l***@***.com
Century-National Insurance Company
12200 Sylvan Street
North Hollywood , California 91606
United States

Company Description: Century-National is an expert in the West, serving customers in California, Arizona, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. How many times have we seen major insurers...   more
Background

Employment History

Education

  • MBA , Management
    Pepperdine University
  • Business , Marketing & Advertising
    University of Iowa

Certifications

8 Total References
Web References
Lou Balicki, Vice President ...
www.atm.com, 11 July 2008 [cached]
Lou Balicki, Vice President of Information Systems
Century-National Insurance Company
...
When Lou Balicki, vice president of information systems for Century-National, attended a recent Gartner conference, he wasn't expecting to encounter a solution with so many legacy integration possibilities. But when he saw a demonstration of Attachmate® Verastream® Host Integrator, he said, "holy mackerel, that could solve at least a dozen different problems in my IT environment."
...
Balicki immediately saw that, with Verastream, the company could make the critical applications residing on their HP e3000 available for easy web access by their business partners. Furthermore, he realized that service-enabling these legacy investments would take his SOA strategy to the next level.
A subsequent proof of concept by Attachmate convinced Balicki and software development manager Saro Hamamah that Verastream was the right tool for the job.
...
"The bottom line for us is that all of these capabilities make it easier for our partners to do business with us," Balicki said.
...
Balicki said that the IT team is also eyeing Verastream to enhance the company's HP-based policy endorsement processes.
"The beauty of Verastream is that it's noninvasive; you don't have to modify the legacy system," said Balicki. "In the insurance industry we can't afford to risk the integrity of our critical legacy data."
Single-vendor host solutions, based on customer satisfaction
Balicki said there are few software vendors with Attachmate's commitment to excellent customer service: "If we can't resolve a problem easily, Attachmate is there for us right away, and that's how business should be done."
This level of service actually comes as no surprise to Balicki, though. He reported that Century-National has been using Attachmate terminal emulation products since he started working with the company some 20 years ago ("when we got rid of those Hazeltine 1520 terminals"). Century-National uses Reflection® for HP to connect Windows users to their HP host as well as Reflection® for the Web to provide secure browser-based host connectivity.
As a satisfied Attachmate customer, Balicki said standardizing on Reflection products has had many benefits, including easy administration and troubleshooting. He added, "Reflection might be more expensive, but it's worth every penny in reliability and up-to-date features."
Although Century-National has plans for eventual phase-out of their HP e3000, Balicki said the company is determined to leverage its rich stores of data and business logic for at least five years. "Verastream and Reflection are helping us get the most out of that legacy host investment as we plan for the future," he said.
Insurance & Technology : Opportunity Knocks
www.insurancetech.com, 25 July 2005 [cached]
For Lou Balicki, vice president of information systems for North Hollywood, Calif.-based Century National Insurance, good things come to those who wait.Hired by the carrier in 1994 to head up a project to consolidate the disparate systems of autonomous lines of business, Balicki finally completed the initiative this year.
Although "disparate" and "autonomous" are quite the opposite of what Balicki has done from a technology and process perspective, those words describe exactly the way the company runs its business."Century National is an opportunistic niche marketer," he explains."Each line of business has a different target market, product, distribution channel mix and marketing plan."Paraphrasing his boss, Weldon Wilson, chairman and president of Century National's parent company, the Kramer-Wilson Company, Balicki says the company motto is, "Find a good niche and love it to death."
...
Supporting autonomous product lines allows Century National ($239 million in 2004 direct written premium) to respond quickly to market changes, according to Balicki, who cites the lender-affiliated agent distribution niche for homeowners insurance as an example.In the early '90s, Balicki relates, a regulation was passed that forced earthquake coverage to be included in all homeowner's insurance policies."Many insurance companies stopped writing homeowners insurance in California at the time, so we stepped into the lender-affiliated slot and started writing business that included earthquake insurance and probably quintupled in size in about three years," he explains."If there is a competency in each division, the company will have the ability to prosper overall."
All for One
Although the company finds opportunity and competitive advantage by maintaining the division of business units and marketing, having completely separate operations and systems often led to back-office complexity and a lack of process commonality, even when some business units had processes with identical functions, according to Balicki.His goal was to consolidate the systems that support those processes while maintaining as much business-line autonomy as possible."After a long search with different vendors, we chose Insurance Data Processing (IDP) in Wyncote, Pa., to help us with a combined system approach in 1995," recalls Balicki."We proceeded division by division - it was like merging about seven or eight separate companies."
The business divisions included in the systems consolidation project are commercial auto, personal auto, mobile home, homeowners, two recently merged divisions providing auto collateral protection for a variety of financial institutions, and a mortgage loan tracking and mortgage forced order group, according to Balicki.He adds that several other divisions have been "retired" along the way, including a commercial property specialty line for apartments and condominiums."My biggest challenge here has been - and will continue to be - maintaining the delicate balance between a need for business line independence with its continual demands for customized front-end process against the process efficiencies gained by greater commonality and shared resources," relates Balicki.
Each business line was run on a home-built proprietary system that Balicki and his team systematically tied into a back-end system provided by IDP called the Vision system, a midrange-based system that handles all of Century National's statistical premium billing, statistical reporting, ISO reporting, and policy accounting and administrative functions for all lines of business, according to Balicki.However, he did develop a few front-end systems due to the autonomous nature of each line of business."We have built our own front ends for commercial auto - which is our second largest division - and mortgage loan tracking, a new venture for us, as well as auto collateral tracking and claims management, with each system tying in tightly to the IDP back end," Balicki explains.The insurer added its own rules logic and user presentation capabilities to the in-house-built front-end systems.
Whose Decision Is It?
The reasoning behind custom-built front ends for some of the systems, Balicki explains, is that the insurer holds a unique business process focus on the decision maker from the beginning."When looking at a process, we find who the decision maker is first and look at all of the processes that feed information to that person," he says."We then streamline those processes to make that person's decision easier, wrapping as much automation around that decision maker as possible."Since information flows ultimately are pointed at an individual, the front end of the system - or the part with which that person interacts - is something Balicki wants to control."I want to make sure that when our business decision makers talk to different departments, they can talk from a position of knowing," he relates.
This process focus on the decision maker then applies separately to each company division, since each has a different distribution system, adding to the overall complexity of the insurer, according to Balicki."In commercial auto, we are a nonstandard market niche, so we use about 500 independent agents that we must maintain interfaces with," he says."For mobile home, we are direct marketers, and for our collateral protection, we market to financial institutions."
With that in mind, the biggest challenge - and the most important IT goal for Balicki - is not missing the window for bringing a product to market."As a small company ,with 345 employees,, we can and must respond to market changes more quickly than our competitors," he says.In the past, a division was likely to miss the market window to deliver a full product because the back-end systems were managed independently, creating a breeding ground for reporting mistakes, according to Balicki."Now, we are able to manage the back end and get reports out fast, and I have an easier time working one on one with each division head to get our marketing strategies rolling," he says.
A Little Help From Friends
Balicki isn't the only one doing all of the IT work and collaborating with the business units."I have been here 17 years, and I am surrounded by some employees that have been here 25 years or more," he relates.But that kind of company loyalty can result in a lack of fresh talent.With that in mind, Balicki promotes a very strong learning environment, including seminars, online training supported by Dublin, Ohio-based MindLeaders and a project management certification program."Cultivating an open learning environment keeps us away from 'management by airline magazine,'" says Balicki.By this he means that Century National encourages the development of new skills and exploration of new trends in technology rather than having project managers find out about cutting-edge IT trends in airline magazines.
In addition to his internal staff of approximately 50 programmers and financial analysts, Balicki relies on support from IDP and other independent contractors and service providers.He refers to these technology specialists as his guardian angels who guide his IT staff through large projects and changes.For example, the insurer's mortgage loan tracking system is Microsoft (Redmond, Wash.) .NET and SQL Server based.When it had to be tied to IDP's back end, "I hired the services of a firm that is an expert in that particular technology to act as a resource for my staff," Balicki relates."Being Web based is especially important when responding to niche markets and turning around new products - it had to be a cogent part of our system," he says.
Almost 10 years after it began, Century National recently completed the last division integration, the newly combined auto collateral protection division.And Balicki credits the human talent in IT, more so than just the technology, with the project's success.
...
Name: Lou Balicki, Vice President of Information Systems
Career Path: After a stint in the army in the 1960s, Balicki received his business degree from the University of Iowa and began his career in 1973 as an underwriting intern at The Insurance Company of North America (INA), which later became CIGNA Property & Casualty Insurance Co.He left CIGNA in 1987 and joined Century National Insurance in 1988 in the newly created position of vice president of operating systems.
No. 1 IT Challenge: "My biggest challenge here has been - and will continue to be - maintaining the delicate balance between a need for business line independence with its continual demands for customized front-end process against the process efficiencies gained by greater commonality and shared resources," Balicki says.
Attachmate Helps Insurance Company Edge-Out Competition | Attachmate
www.attachmate.com, 7 July 2008 [cached]
"Verastream has dramatically reduced mainframe maintenance," said Lou Balicki, vice president of information systems with Century-National Insurance.
...
"Attachmate has been there to help us with anything we need through the deployment and ongoing use of Verastream," said Balicki.
Century-National Insurance Uses Verastream Host Integrator for B2B Solution | Attachmate
www.attachmate.com, 14 July 2008 [cached]
When Lou Balicki, vice president of information systems for Century-National, attended a recent Gartner conference, he wasn't expecting to encounter a solution with so many legacy integration possibilities. But when he saw a demonstration of Attachmate® Verastream® Host Integrator, he said, "holy mackerel, that could solve at least a dozen different problems in my IT environment."
...
Balicki immediately saw that, with Verastream, the company could make the critical applications residing on their HP e3000 available for easy web access by their business partners. Furthermore, he realized that service-enabling these legacy investments would take his SOA strategy to the next level.
A subsequent proof of concept by Attachmate convinced Balicki and software development manager Saro Hamamah that Verastream was the right tool for the job.
...
"The bottom line for us is that all of these capabilities make it easier for our partners to do business with us," Balicki said.
...
Balicki said that the IT team is also eyeing Verastream to enhance the company's HP-based policy endorsement processes.
"The beauty of Verastream is that it's noninvasive; you don't have to modify the legacy system," said Balicki. "In the insurance industry we can't afford to risk the integrity of our critical legacy data."
Single-Vendor Host Solutions, Based on Customer Satisfaction
Balicki said there are few software vendors with Attachmate's commitment to excellent customer service: "If we can't resolve a problem easily, Attachmate is there for us right away, and that's how business should be done."
This level of service actually comes as no surprise to Balicki, though. He reported that Century-National has been using Attachmate terminal emulation products since he started working with the company some 20 years ago ("when we got rid of those Hazeltine 1520 terminals"). Century-National uses Reflection® for HP to connect Windows users to their HP host as well as Reflection® for the Web to provide secure browser-based host connectivity.
As a satisfied Attachmate customer, Balicki said standardizing on Reflection products has had many benefits, including easy administration and troubleshooting. He added, "Reflection might be more expensive, but it's worth every penny in reliability and up-to-date features."
Although Century-National has plans for eventual phase-out of their HP e3000, Balicki said the company is determined to leverage its rich stores of data and business logic for at least five years. "Verastream and Reflection are helping us get the most out of that legacy host investment as we plan for the future," he said.
...
Lou Balicki Vice President of Iniformation Systems, Century-National Insurance Company
Lou Balicki Vice ...
www.attachmate.com.au, 24 Sept 2010 [cached]
Lou Balicki Vice President of Information Systems Century-National Insurance Company
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