Over the last two years, a number of Web sites have formed expressly targeted to brokers with expertise in the small-business insurance segment. One of the providers that has withstood the dot-com purge is BenefitMall.com, a Dallas-based online exchange for small-business employee group benefits plans.The provider, which saw its premium volume increase 40% last year, owes its success to a couple of strategies, chiefly the formulation of an internal executive management team that combines experience in both IT and insurance. With a proprietary rating and quoting engine in place, brokers can get quotes from multiple carriers and submit an application through BenefitMall in the format that a particular carrier requires. Brokers don't pay a fee to conduct business with BenefitMall, but carriers do-paying a commission based on premiums sold.

Targeting companies of 1,000 or fewer employees, BenefitMall enables a broker to finalize a policy for a small-business owner in one business day. The company currently has 35,000 brokers registered to use the service.

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