For Zurich Insurance Group, insurance is more than just a business. It's about protecting customers and the things they love — giving them the peace of mind and confidence to build a future. The nearly 150-year-old company has always put customers first, and that commitment is the driving force behind its digital transformation.
As part of its mission to continuously serve customers most effectively, and to attract new consumers, Zurich Insurance has been retiring legacy applications as well as moving many workloads to Elastic Cloud. The migration has allowed the insurer to add value by building new digital services such as improved claims reporting and remote risk assessments. The company has also launched new insurance products, like Zurich Klinc, which provides coverage for personal electronic devices such as smartphones, cameras, and e-bikes.
At Zurich Insurance, we want to exceed customer expectations and support their increasingly digital lifestyles. That is why we moved to Elastic Cloud on Kubernetes. With Elastic, we can stay focused on customer needs, drive innovation, and simplify our IT environment.
Zurich Insurance is one of the largest public companies in the world, with 55,000 employees and customers in 215 countries and territories. Moving the company forward requires sweeping initiatives. But zoom in, and it’s easy to trace the company's progress back to the hard work of teams and Elastic evangelists such as Brian Keegan, Zurich’s Senior Project Lead, and Evgeny Sitnikov, Zurich's Head of Solution Integration.
Brian Keegan and Evgeny Sitnikov lead projects most employees and customers don’t see, but their work supports the ongoing innovation that keeps the company competitive and customers happy. One of the core technologies they oversee is Elastic, which helps claims agents be more productive and provide better customer service, and helps developers drive innovation — all of which has a major impact on the business’s bottom line.
Zurich Insurance has embraced Elastic for the last five years, and it has become indispensable to the company’s ability to better serve customers and maintain their trust. The company uses Elasticsearch in its claims-based applications, giving agents a quick way to pull up contact records and claim history while on the phone with a customer. In the past, accessing this information was difficult, or even impossible, because decades worth of data was scattered across dozens of legacy systems. That meant agents had to spend time collecting personal data from customers themselves, extending the length of the call and making frustrated customers anxiously wade through the claims process.
Now, this customer data is at agents’ fingertips right when they need it, thanks to Elastic.
By consolidating customer data and making it easily searchable through Elasticsearch, Zurich Insurance claims agents get accurate information in real time and respond to customer inquiries faster," says Evgeny Sitnikov. "That saves anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes on each call — which can really add up and make a significant difference in customer satisfaction.
The Elastic Stack also plays an important role in the development cycle, as Zurich drives innovation to meet the ever-changing needs of its customers. Hundreds of Zurich developers and testers rely on Elastic for application logging, from testing and deployment to production, making sure applications maintain high standards of performance and availability for employees and customers. They’re pulling in logs from as many as 40 on-prem and cloud applications, from 40-year-old legacy insurance systems to modern digital apps — creating an aggregated view of requests and incidents — all in an effort to better serve the customer.
Prior to using Elastic at Zurich Insurance, application logs were siloed, and it could take days to request and retrieve the data, especially from systems managed by third parties. Now, with Kibana dashboards, it’s possible to visualize those logs in real time, helping teams troubleshoot and fix IT issues in minutes instead of days. That makes for a dramatically faster mean time to resolution (MTTR), which is key as Zurich Insurance moves to the cloud and creates digital experiences to meet the rising expectations of employees and customers in a competitive landscape.
Maintaining a rapid pace of innovation, however, meant that the IT environment needed to evolve. The team needed more storage capacity and scalability to accommodate growing demand for application logging — and that meant moving to the cloud. In order to scale, grow revenue, expand their customer base, and increase customer satisfaction, Zurich Insurance chose Elastic Cloud on Kubernetes (ECK).
Zurich Insurance had been looking to adopt Kubernetes to help migrate and deploy applications to the cloud — modernizing their application infrastructure across the board. So when Elastic released the alpha version of Elastic Cloud on Kubernetes (ECK), the company jumped on the opportunity.
Brian Keegan's team ran a proof of concept to test the viability of ECK on Microsoft Azure Kubernetes Services (AKS), working with the Elastic Consulting and Microsoft teams to brainstorm on architecture and use cases, and to validate the approach with best practices. Elastic consultants supported during the development of a proof of concept, creating an ideal training foundation for the IT team at Zurich Insurance. The Elastic team collaborated with Zurich to establish ways to capture logs in Kubernetes and helped prepare everything for production, with recommendations on Azure components, instance sizes, and storage classes. The engagement provided a solid launching point for the implementation of ECK, which is secure by default, and supports declarative users and roles.
"Our experience with Elastic Consulting was excellent," says Brian Keegan. "Their guidance was instrumental in meeting an aggressive timeline. We completed the implementation of the minimum viable product up to UAT in less than six weeks, and that was our green light for going into production."
The shift to Elastic Cloud has dramatically simplified upgrades and infrastructure changes. That means Zurich Insurance gets an optimal return on investment in the Elastic Stack by eliminating many legacy solutions that hindered growth, revenue, and scaling, while freeing staff to focus on improving products and services instead of spending time upgrading and addressing timeouts.
"In the past, performing an upgrade required a huge project involving a lot of people from across teams — and it could take several weeks to complete," says Evgeny Sitnikov. "With the ease of use of Elastic, today we can make infrastructure changes in hours instead of days or weeks."
Evgeny Sitnikov and Brian Keegan expect Elastic usage to grow, with data flowing in from multiple sources. To manage the data cost-effectively, they're making full use of the cold, warm, and hot nodes in ECK — continually rotating older data onto less expensive cold storage while retaining the data for accounting, regulatory and other purposes.
Consumers are already seeing the results — much faster response claim times from agents, new and convenient online services, and modernized insurance products to protect the things that matter most to them. And that’s only the beginning.
As Evgeny Sitnikov and Brian Keegan look to the future, they see ECK on Microsoft Azure Kubernetes as a strategic way to drive innovation and efficiency even more.