The tragic events of Sept. 11 in New York City, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., cast a pall on the nation's collective psyche, and also prompted insurance carriers to re-examine their IT investment strategies.Carriers that absorbed large losses on the claims side as the result of the tragedies might consider scaling back IT expenditures simply because the claims hit they absorbed would require capital spending cuts.

But on the other hand, the events of Sept. 11 might make insurers recognize the importance of automation even more.

One of the first surveys to tap the insights of chief information officers across the U.S. on this subject was Morgan Stanley & Co. Inc.'s "CIO Survey on Enterprise Software." Released in October, the survey indicates that 19% of CIOs surveyed believed they would likely "review major expenditures," while 33% said it was too early to tell if the disasters would affect IT spending and strategy.

CIO said that the areas they would hike spending were disaster recovery services (36% of respondents), back-up and recovery software (27%) and security (31%). In breaking down security, these investments would include firewall, anti-virus and encryption solutions.

Carriers that reported significant losses with claims face a pressing need to settle these claims quickly. With so many claims to sift through and assess, automation can serve as the linchpin.

For instance, Westwood, Mass.-based MIB Group Inc., a purveyor of database and information management tools to the global risk management community, has launched a program to help locate life insurance policies for the families of victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

With support from a coalition of North American life insurance companies, MIB has begun working directly with tenants of the World Trade Center in New York to help locate these policies. A Web site, located at www.mib.com, contains full details of the process, including a "MIB Affidavit in Lieu of Death Certificate" that can be downloaded, and links to other disaster relief, industry and governmental organizations.

"We want to help ensure that the families and survivors of the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks find all of the life insurance policies which may have been in place on the victims," MIB vice president Fran Marinelli says.

The process involves searching its databases to determine if the victims had applied for insurance at any of its member companies. Since MIB searches are usually related to applications for insurance, it's hoped that the search will help point families to insurers who may have issued policies on the victims, and help eliminate the need to contact multiple insurance companies in search of policies, Marinelli adds.

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