After the technology exuberance of the late 1990s, the current conservative approach to IT spending seems like a hangover after a big party. But IT spending by carriers in the coming year isn't all that bleak.Depending on whom you ask, carriers on average are expected to increase their IT spending by up to 8% each year over the next few years, including this year. Last year, property/casualty and life/health carriers together spent approximately $18 billion on information technology, and they will spend $19.3 billion this year, according to Celent Communications, a Boston-based research and advisory firm.

Celent's prediction for a 7% annual increase in insurance IT spending from 2003 to 2005 is slightly higher than forecasts for IT spending overall. Worldwide IT spending is expected to increase between 4% and 5% each year from 2003 to 2006, and U.S. IT spending will grow at an annual rate of 5% to 6% over that same period, according to Aberdeen Group, a Boston-based market research firm.

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