Zurich: Deploying Rating Spreadsheets with Database Integration


Zurich, a global provider of insurance products, were looking for a way to securely distribute spreadsheets used for product pricing.

Insurance “raters” are used to collect data and calculate pricing. Data and formulas are frequently updated, so Excel is commonly used due to its agility and flexibility. However, this comes with the typical issues associated with sharing spreadsheets, namely the “chaos” – poor access control, version confusion, lack of a central repository for users’ data, error introduction and proliferation, and poorly protected intellectual property.

The problem we were trying to solve was challenging, but EASA was flexible enough to meet our needs. In th future, we will rely on EASA even more…

Nemanja Kostic
IT Solution Architect
Zurich Insurance Company Ltd.

The Problem

While Excel is an ideal tool in terms of its flexibility, power and agility, the downsides exposed Zurich to serious risk. How then to keep using Excel but eliminate the chaos?

It’s a common enough scenario in any industry: spreadsheets used for product pricing.

In the insurance sector, Excel® is widely used to create complex pricing tools for products and services because it is a fast and flexible platform. In fact, spreadsheets are often preferred to “hard-code”, because actuaries need to make frequent changes to calculations and business logic to reflect market fluctuations and actuarial adjustments.

Insurance rating is a specific example. It’s a critical one because the calculations and business logic embedded in rating models can contribute directly to the company’s bottom line.

It’s therefore vital that the authorized owner of a spreadsheet has access to maintain it – but equally vital that end-users only have access to the model’s functionality. The algorithms and methods embedded are key intellectual property – they must be applied correctly and protected from unauthorized distribution.


Zurich used EASA to convert the spreadsheets into web apps, which provided users with controlled access to the functionality without them ever directly touching the spreadsheet.

EASA enables ultra-rapid creation of web-based applications which leverage existing assets such as spreadsheets, databases, web-services, and legacy tools. Zurich has seen benefits including:

The custom web applications which replace “raw” spreadsheets are so intuitive that end-user training is no longer required

End-users can only access the correct “certified” version of a spreadsheet, ensuring consistent pricing for customers

If a change is required, it is made by the authorized “owner”, and is immediately published to end-users
Confidential models and data embedded in key spreadsheets are protected

Integration with other systems such as databases and web-services is enabled
An audit trail of past usage is available


Chaos was completely eliminated, and the spreadsheets could still be updated just as before, except now only by authorized staff.

EASA enables Zurich to secure a master version of a given spreadsheet on a server. Authorized access is only via a custom web application created with EASA’s codeless application builder, allowing a more natural work-flow.

Even spreadsheets with add-ins or macros can be deployed, because EASA runs Excel natively, in contrast to Excel Services.

In the future the system can be extended to provide access for mobile users.

Benefits of Using EASA for Rating Spreadsheets

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