An improved look for Schemeswriter v3.14

Published on 16 Dec 2015

Schemeswriter v3.14 has been deployed to your test sites and brings a multitude of features and improvements.

UI and Appearance Updates
Improvements have been made throughout the system to the appearance of the site, with special attention paid to the look and usability of tabbed pages, the underwriters premium adjuster (see below) and the popup windows are now fully responsive and mobile device friendly.

Override MTA Premiums
Underwriters now have the ability to adjust the extra or return premium on a mid-term adjustment without affecting the future annual premium. The UI for premium adjustment has also been dramatically improved, highlighting items which have adjustments, showing the original value and allowing them to be clear to reset the policy to a calculated state. We are also now calculating the future annual tax at MTA, so we can give and estimate future total payable amount.

Question Set Navigation
We have added quick navigation controls to the top of the page summary to allow for quick navigation when editing and adjusting quotes, added an optional 'Save and add another' button to repeats if you need to add multiple items and improved the look of headings and groupings of questions.

Business Portal
You now have the ability to activate B2B customers on your B2C affiliate site, they will be able to view their policy details and download documentation as if they had purchased directly through the B2C portal.

Responsive Consumer Quoting Sites
The B2C system has now been upgrade to be fully responsive, so we can build consumer quoting and business portals that work across desktop, laptop, tablet and mobile devices.

Foreign Taxes
Support for common insurance taxes for the following countries:
Ireland, Cyprus, Italy, Portugal, Malta & Spain.

Reissue Lapsed Policies
In response to customer feedback we have implemented a re-issue policy function.  If a mistake has been made following the cancellation of a risk you now have the ability to click 're-issue' from the expired policy record and re quote without having to rekey the risk details and persist existing notes, uploads and timeline data.

Security Updates
General improvements to security on the direct to consumer site have been made to ensure invalidated quotes can no longer be amended.

Product Developer Updates
We have made several improvements to our scheme development tools to make them faster, more efficient and easier to use.

Bug Fixes
  • Sum Insured and Calculated fields now display correctly formatted on the Statements of Facts and Summary of Data Input
  • Effective date controls now display correctly when time is included

As always, if you have any questions or comments then please let us know.

Merry Christmas from BrokerTech

Published on 11 Dec 2015

Yesterday we put up our Christmas Tree in our office but we'd like to emphasise:
Our technical skills are not necessarily matched by our artistic ones.
We guarantee that our software design is better than our Christmas tree decorating.
Anyway, we've shown you ours, so why not show us yours!
Merry Christmas from us all at BrokerTech and best wishes for 2016.

Schemeswriter v3.12 brings integration and reporting improvements

Published on 2 Dec 2015

Schemeswriter v3.12 has been deployed to your test sites and brings with it improvements and new features.

Notifications Feed
Every significant event in the system is now stored in a real-time, write-forward system feed along with detailed information on premium, risk and accounts.

This opens up a world of integration and reporting opportunities, as well as allowing us to gain detailed insights into the state of risk at any given point in the systems life-cycle.  Third-party and internal systems can monitor this feed to conveniently watch for unusual activity, trends in sales or claims and open an extension point for future bespoke requirements.

New Finance Options for New Business
Premium Credit Limited (PCL) and Close Brothers Finance (CPF) options are now available for direct integration at new business.

Broker Price Match
You can now enable premium adjustment for your brokers if they have delegated authority, and place restrictions around how much they can load and discount.

OpenGI Improvements
If you integrate with an OpenGI back office, it will now be possible to update your records automatically after MTA, cancellation and renewal transactions to keep your records accurate at all times and reduce manual intervention.

Search Engine Fixes
Improvements to the search engine will provide more accurate and relevant results.

Accounting Improvements
Tax and commission breakdowns on a per section basis have been added to the payment pages, providing you with a more detailed view of each transaction.

As always, if you have any questions or comments then please let us know.

SSL Upgrades

Published on 8 Oct 2015

With the imminent go-live of another SchemesWriter 3 system, we have recently implemented a new style of SSL certificate to secure our web traffic.

Our live sites have always used SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificates to secure the HTTP traffic between client browsers and our servers, ensuring secure and reliable communication of sensitive data.

In recent years there has been a push from many of the big players on the Internet towards fully encrypted traffic for all sites using SSL & HTTPS. Google have been talking about securing all of their traffic via HTTPS for years, and their security bulletins give some good background information on why this is shaping up to be a good idea in the long run.

Recently, with the burgeoning number of sites and domains we now use in a modern SchemesWriter system, we have decided to upgrade our old certificate purchasing scheme to one in which we use what is called a wildcard certificate.

Where previously we purchased a single certificate to secure a single domain, we now have the power to use a wildcard certificate. This more powerful and flexible certificate is able to sign traffic on not only the root domain of one of our sites, but all of the sub-domains. This means that a root domain and any number of sub-domains can also be secured in the same way with a single certificate.

Previous versions of the SchemesWriter system did not use many distinct domains to run the application, and so using a wildcard certificate was not economically sensible. The security benefits of SSL could be realised with a single certificate for the live domain.

Once we started securing more than four live sub-domains, as we do now, a wildcard certificate became more economically viable. As such, we gained the benefit of securing all staging environments; as these ordinarily share a root domain with the live sites; as well as many of the UAT testing environments and supporting domains that are all involved in running a modern SchemesWriter system.

We are in the process of rolling this new methodology to our client sites and hope to enable the new certificates as each existing SSL certificate comes up for renewal. It will be a seamless transition that we will handle for all of our customer sites. Hopefully all you will notice is that the little green padlock starts appearing for all of your staging and testing environments.

If you have any questions regarding this process then please feel free to get in touch with us at

IPT Changes

Published on 30 Sep 2015

Today we have deployed changes to cater for the new IPT rate of 9.5% effective from 01/11/15.

Like all those affected across the insurance industry, we've had to be proactive in ensuring that we meet our customer needs, as the directives around this issued by the Government were not totally clear with at least a degree of ambiguity.

We consulted with our business clients and gained consensus from them to provide for a grace period.

To summarise, the Summer 2015 Budget included an increase to the standard rate of Insurance Premium tax (IPT) from the current 6% to 9.5%.

The rate change becomes effective from 01/11/15 and provides for a transitional (grace) period that ends on 29/02/16. This means:
  • Policies with a start/renewal date on/after 01/11/15 are liable to 9.5% IPT
  • Policies with a start/renewal date before 01/11/15 are liable to 6% IPT
  • Premiums paid on/after 01/03/16 will become liable for 9.5% IPT irrespective of the rate received from the policyholder or the start/renewal date of the policy
  • Any additional premiums or other policy changes (Mid-Term Adjustments) occurring before 01/11/15 are liable to IPT at 6%
  • Any additional premiums or other policy changes (Mid-Term Adjustments) occurring on or after 01/11/15 but before 01/03/16 are liable to IPT at 6% provided the underlying original policy premium was established prior to 01/11/15 and any additional premiums are booked before 01/03/16
  • Any additional premiums or other policy changes (Mid-Term Adjustments) occurring on or after 01/11/15 but before 01/03/16 where the original policy has a start/renewal date after 01/11/15 are liable to IPT at 9.5%
  • Any premium refunds will attract IPT credit according to the rate of tax appropriate at the start/renewal date

The transitional period does offer some period of grace for processing. However, it should be noted that if premiums due on pre-01/11/15 policies are not booked by 29/02/16, then they will be liable to the new rate of 9.5% IPT.

Version 3.11 is Live

Published on 29 Sep 2015

We've been quiet these last few weeks working on the latest version of SchemesWriter 3 and rolling some major new features in to the platform.

Our most important addition was the brand new Renewals workflow.
SchemesWriter 3 has full life-cycle management of policies and is able to help you process them in a fast and easy to use interface. Scheduled invites are sent and updates to quotes are processed seamlessly, allowing you to get on with keeping your customers happy.

Our new Single-Sign-On authentication system was rolled into this new version. Using the latest OpenID Connect identity layer it supersedes our previous iteration of OpenID, allowing us to extend our security and permission system in the future. While hopefully you didn't actually notice a change in the interface, underneath it all is a shiny new engine that should allow us to extend the permissions library and create a centrally managed administration interface for SchemesWriter 3 and all it's related services. Users will be managed in a central location allowing administrators to control and revoke access easily and quickly.

The new API for SchemesWriter 3 has been deployed with this version and is already in use. Our Accounts systems in SchemesWriter 2 & 3 are now wired up using data through the API, and our Middleware service will soon be using it to help with 3rd party integration for MTAs. Take a look at our previous post for a more in depth run-down of the API features.

The SchemesWriter 3 platform now tracks every penny of your premiums as payments make their way from customer to insurer allowing you to analyse commission, taxes, fees and more every step of the way.  This data source will allow you to integrate with your existing accounts system with minimal effort and generate any financial data stream you can dream of.

New API Magic

Published on 10 Sep 2015

We have been striving in recent weeks to continue pushing the boundaries of interoperability in our Schemeswriter software suite.

The latest technology in the larger business world to embrace this movement is APIs (Application Programming Interfaces).
While the technology landscape is still shifting and changing, APIs across HTTP have emerged as the dominant method of communications between disparate systems.

As such, we have been implementing a modern and highly standards-based communication platform for our Schemeswriter applications and associated services.

Our new API platform outputs hypermedia data in the predominant formats of XML and JSON so that machines and systems can exchange information efficiently, while allowing our API end points to be discoverable and usable by third parties.

Nearly all of our business entities have been hooked into the API interface, allowing us to manipulate Quotes, Estimates, Policies, Users and Documents with any tool that speaks the API terminology.

This dramatic step forward will allow us to import business objects and workflows from third party systems with dramatically reduced lead-times, as well as integrate with any other system that has an applicable API entry-point. Our integrations can be pushed via our own Middleware system if some data translation is required, or in some cases will be able to push directly into other business systems.

Separating out the API interfaces also allows us to provide a better and more scalable architecture for the future.

This means that there will be fewer points of failure as we move to coupled micro-service architectures with fully load-balanced and High Availability software. It will also allow us to build new web sites and services on top of a unified business architecture, without reinventing the wheel for new systems. Policy and Document portals will be on the future road-map, as well as more easily integrated B2C web sites, utilising pure API integration.

All of the relevant data can travel efficiently and securely across the Internet, linking business systems together in new ways, so that our customers can get new integrations and insights into their data like never before.

Version 3.10 brings search improvements, customer payments and much more!

Published on 15 Jun 2015

Version 3.10 of Schemeswriter is coming and will bring some significant improvements to the user experience.

Huge Improvements to the Search
We have overhauled the search process to make significant improvements to the way the search looks and functions. The user view has been updated to be more readable and tags have been added to clearly identify the type of quote, or the state that a policy is currently in (be it an estimate, MTA or cancellation). Secondly we have cleaned up the indexing algorithm to remove some of the clutter, so you will no longer see invalid quotes or extra MTA quotes that are no longer relevant.

Payment Processing
Customer payments can now be tracked and managed through the Schemeswriter system. You can make credit & debit card payments via SagePay, or mark items as paid by cheque or bank transfer. We have also included the ability to view the current payment status from the policy record itself, as well as the ability to Pay Now or Pay Later after accepting a quote so you can manage payments for your policies in a way that suits you.

Unfinished Quotes
You now have the ability to save unfinished quotes. This feature allows you to leave the quoting process midway and come back to it at a later stage.  You can simply pick up where you left off from the dashboard.

Document History
We have added a new document timeline in addition to the audit list so you can easily locate and download historic documents from any point in a policies history. This is retroactive, so will show up on all of your existing policies as well as you new ones.

Claims Management
You now have the ability to upload a list of claims and view them against your policy records. You may also download a list of all claims to get an overview of what is currently recorded in the system.

Google Tag Manager
With Google tag manager integration you can now track campaign tags inside your own B2C sites. See the analytics settings for more information.

Skip Estimate Quote
You can now skip the estimate stage and go straight to the full quote in the B2B platform.

Under the hood Improvements
- We've done work on the underlying database and platform to reduce contention issues under high loads
- Endorsements will now invalidate quotation documents before you have un-referred, allowing you to review the changes before sending to the broker
- Documents and search will now update when the address is changed on a customer profile
- New debugging tools for the product developers

As always, if you have any questions or comments then please let us know.

Introducing Our New Servers

Published on 11 Jun 2015

Last week we expanded our server family with some new high performance machines. Our Dell R520s will see us able to support our customers as they move to our new SchemesWriter 3 platform. They use enterprise-grade and tested components, and will allow us to call on excellent third party support from Dell which in turn helps us to provide the best levels of hardware support around the clock.

Over the course of the next few weeks we will be bedding them in and putting them through their paces as part of our comprehensive commissioning procedure before rolling them into a new installation.

Be sure to check back here when we announce our roll out of the software onto this new hardware platform, and as always, if you have any questions or comments please feel free to get in touch.

Version 3.9 is available for testing

Published on 2 Apr 2015

With the Easter Bunny delivering eggs we thought we'd release some *egg-citing* SchemesWriter 3 improvements!

First up is the implementation of a new document production architecture. This allows us to produce better documentation faster and more efficiently than ever before and will provide a resilient and scalable solution for the future.

Improvements have also been made to profile information, we have added the ability to list office opening hours and contact details so your customers and brokers are better informed of how to contact you. Enhancements have been made to the document upload system to prevent improper files being uploaded, as well as more intelligent idle notification for long-running quotes.

Our development tool has been updated with an important feature for importing rating rules from existing schemes into new builds. This change should help make development more efficient for our product teams.

We have begun adding real-time MI and statistic monitoring into this version as an ongoing piece of work. At the moment we are exporting activity and sales events to simple graphs that can be custom built for selected superusers.  We will continue tweaking these statistics, as well as exploring new ways to access and report on that data.

Finally, a lot of preliminary work has gone into some major architectural changes these past few weeks and we are excited to update you on these in the near future. So stay tuned!

This release is now available on your UAT sites. Please get in touch if you have any questions or queries.

Version 3.8 is available for testing

Published on 10 Mar 2015

Our latest testing release of the SchemesWriter system is now available on your UAT sites. This release includes the usual bug fixes and stability improvements.

The update of note in this release is the "Cost Estimate" feature.
With this feature in place, you can now run more concise question sets and allow your customers a shorter route to an estimated premium, with the option of then filling in the remaining questions for a full quote.

We hope that this highly requested feature proves useful, and as always, let us know if you have any questions or queries regarding this release.

Version 2.33 is available for testing

Published on 4 Mar 2015

Following our latest development phase, version 2.33 of the SchemesWriter system is available on your UAT sites.
This release for testing brings the usual bug fixes and stability improvements as well as a few larger more notable features.

This version has a new data purge option available, allowing our users to remain up to date with current PCI-DSS compliance rules regarding customer data retention. As one might imagine, this is an important feature that required thorough testing during development to ensure it is reliable, and we recommend you take a look to ensure it works reliably for your UAT data in advance of the live roll out to the live systems.

We have also introduced a feature that improves visibility of Employers Liability information within the system and on reports.

The final feature of note is the introduction of better formatting support in the email templates. You are now able to include a limited set of formatting characters in the template text that will translate into more better formatted emails from the system to your users.

If you have any questions or comments regarding these features then please do not hesitate to get in touch with support.

Version 3.7 has been released

Published on 2 Mar 2015

After another successful round of internal testing, version 3.7 of the SchemesWriter system has now been rolled out to all live systems.

This was a maintenance focussed release with over 100 improvements and fixes. These were rolled into the next release (version 3.8) that is currently in user testing and will be pushed to the live environments in the coming weeks.

We hope that this release continues to provide more stability and efficiency savings in your business and as always, Happy Quoting!

Server Hardware Updates

Published on 17 Feb 2015

We visited the data centre yesterday evening to perform a couple of hardware updates on the servers. Our internal infrastructure server received a hardware upgrade so it can now cope with higher throughput on our backend support systems.
At the same time we refreshed some settings on our build server and we will continue upgrading our CI and build processes in the coming weeks for faster and even more reliable code deployments.

The Big Move

Published on 13 Feb 2015

The move from our on-site hosting facilities to the Custodian Data Centre has been successfully completed. We are very happy with how it went and have secured a stable and long-term strategy for growth of our business.

The last few weeks and months have seen feverish activity in the planning stages and purchasing of new hardware to get us into a viable hosting configuration before we even attempted to physically move our servers. We have spent a lot of time rebuilding machines into more efficient bespoke 2U housings, as well as reconfiguring our network infrastructure with some enterprise class switching. We invested a lot of time in securing our firewalls and ensuring that our data remains safe while allowing high levels of availability on all of our services. Some of our hardware infrastructure has been through a process of virtualisation in which we have been able to upgrade some of our physical machines to virtual devices that can be more effectively managed. This has allowed us to consolidate many of our services onto more efficient machines with more capacity for scaling our services with demand, while allowing us easier management of real-time replicas and maintenance cycles.

The move itself occurred last week. In the evenings leading up to it, we carefully moved each of our servers over to the new network address space, using some creative juggling of gateways and firewalls. This allowed us to test the new configuration in a completely secure network environment before we then moved to a new physical location. With this successfully completed, we then went ahead the next Saturday with the move of the machines into their new home.

The move itself, while long, went without major problems. Each group of servers moved were racked and powered on, bringing back their services in the correct configuration each time. We had one issue which required some creative thinking in the middle of the installation involving some jammed rails, but with some effort we were able to work around the problem and have everything running as we wanted.

Each of our servers is labelled and cable colour coded so that we can easily see at a glance which machine is which from the back or the front. Drives are labelled so that we can manage them individually in the event of any replacements being required.

We have full redundancy available in all of our hardware, from the switches, to the firewalls, to servers. Remote monitoring systems keep an eye on their health 24/7 and alert core team members in the event of any issues arising, so that we can pro-actively fix problems without our customers even noticing in most cases.

The award winning facilities at Custodian will allow us to maintain power and network connectivity at an unprecedented new level of reliability while being an environmentally responsible operation, and physically secure to ISO 27001 standards.

We are looking forward to the future in our new location, and if any of our customers has questions or queries regarding their hosting arrangements then we would be only too happy to answer them at our Support Helpdesk

Winter Migration

Published on 6 Feb 2015

We are expanding and improving our server operations this weekend by migrating to new facilities.

The build-up to Christmas and all of January have been a busy time for us as we have been preparing for a migration of our servers to an award winning local hosting provider.

We have selected the Custodian Data Centre in Maidstone to provide our ongoing hosting. Their award-winning facilities currently have a 100% uptime record and will provide power and network resilience beyond what we have been able to achieve so far.

We are planning to move all of our live infrastructure over the course of a few hours on Saturday 7th February. As such our customers may experience some unavoidable downtime while we physically move our servers into their new home. We have prepared the way as much as possible to minimise disruption and will continue to monitor them pro-actively once they are bedded in.

We hope to provide a more thorough write-up of our move once it is complete.

Thanks to all our customers for their patience and we look forward to working with you in the coming year.