ACE Launches ACE TankSafeACE Casualty Risk, a division of Philadelphia-based ACE USA, has launched ACE TankSafe, a Web-based underwriting facility that enables contracted brokers to conduct automated underwriting transactions from submission to issuance. ACE TankSafe is offered through ACE Casualty Risk's environmental underwriting unit-ACE Environmental Risk-and targets underground storage insurance products, from the small tank policies to large industrial portfolios, for the small to mid-sized market.

Smart Insurance Forms

Standardized forms for processing insurance transactions between independent agents and insurance companies will be smarter and easier to maintain for ACORD Advantage agents now that they're integrated with Microsoft Office InfoPath 2003, part of the Microsoft Office System. ACORD, the Pearl River, N.Y.-based nonprofit insurance standards organization, has developed more than 500 standard forms for the property/casualty and life insurance industries. The ACORD Advantage program provides distributors with unlimited access to ACORD forms, along with tools and other services to help improve workflow and business operations. While currently serving the property/casualty lines of business, Advantage will be expanding to include life and annuity lines.

New Name: Finetre Corp.

AnnuityNet/VARDS, a Herndon, Va.-based software technology and research firm, has been renamed Finetre Corp. As an evolution from its original focus on the online sale and servicing of annuities and annuity data collection and research, this name change signals the company's commitment to expand its offerings to additional facets of the financial services community, according to the company. AnnuityNet and VARDS will each continue as product lines of Finetre. The company's services will be expanding to encompass the online sale and servicing of additional product lines. Under initial consideration are life insurance products, mutual funds, and 529 plans. Finetre also expects to have a strong international presence by the second quarter of 2004.

Central Insurance Teams With Xcipio

Van Wert, Ohio-based Central Insurance Cos. has unveiled a productivity tool for Central's independent agency network. Central Insurance's real-time rate engine has been connected to Xcipio's XcelerRator platform, using the latest ACORD XML 1.3 standard. Xcipio Inc. is a Lawrence, Mass.-based firm specializing in Java/XML applications for the property/casualty industry. XcelerRator is a single-entry, multi-carrier, multi-product, multi-vendor communication platform that underwrites and quotes in real-time, and pre-fills ACORD application and carrier supplemental forms to automate insurance sales, distribution and customer support. The Central/Xcipio collaboration enables central agents to have simultaneous access to multiple carriers and products, including Central's host system, from a single point of entry.

Jefferson Pilot Offers Case Status Updates

Greensboro, N.C.-based Jefferson Pilot Financial, a provider of fixed and variable universal life insurance and fixed annuities, has introduced electronic pending case status updates to support its vast producer base. Partnering with AgencyWorks, a Salt Lake City-based provider of life agency management systems, Jefferson Pilot is providing pending case status updates via transaction mode XML in ACORD standards. The partnership marks the first implementation of real-time pending case status within an agency management system using the ACORD life transaction model, according to Jefferson Pilot. AgencyWorks has delivered a Web service program that aggregates data from multiple system environments at Jefferson Pilot and generates ACORD XML transactions, which are then electronically fed to Jefferson Pilot's key producers for up-to-date status on pending cases.

Nationwide Web Site Awarded Top Honors

The Web site of Columbus, Ohio-based Nationwide Insurance jumped to the No. 1 spot for "ease of use" and "customer confidence" among U.S. property/casualty insurance companies' Internet sites in the most recent Gomez Scorecard. Waltham, Mass.-based Gomez Inc. ranks top firms in key areas of online customer experience. Gomez featured Nationwide's emphasis on the value of the agent. Gomez also noted the following improvements to Nationwide's site: Continued enhancement of the AskNationwide natural language search feature; addition of MyNationwide log-in on the NationwideInsurance.com homepage; and Nationwide's intuitive agent locator.

Online Calculator For Small Business

Most small-business owners are ill-prepared to recover payroll expenses and profits if disaster strikes, according to a nationwide survey conducted by Seattle-based Safeco Corp. Furthermore, they aren't well-informed about business income insurance-the coverage that can help them recoup those losses. More than half (55%) said they do not have business income insurance, and 63% say they are unfamiliar with business income insurance. To make the process of estimating business income insurance needs simpler, Safeco has introduced a business income insurance education section and a new online calculator that enables small-business owners to estimate their business income insurance needs in minutes. Small-business owners can log on to Safeco's Web site at www.safeco.com/businessincome, respond to four simple questions about their net income, operating expenses, payroll plans, and expenses, and instantly calculate their estimated business income insurance needs.

Travelers Introduces "My Personal Info''

Travelers Property Casualty Corp., Hartford, Conn., is offering its agents a custom software program called My Personal Info. The software guides policyholders through the process of collecting, organizing, recording and storing all their personal and financial information in one place. Available on CD or in booklet format, My Personal Info is designed to organize vital information so it is easily retrievable in an emergency. After data is entered on such topics as real estate and insurance policies, credit cards, banking, brokerage and retirement accounts, and important contact numbers, it can be saved onto a disk or printed as a report and stored in a secure location.

BeneTGrac Forms Alliance With Blues Plan

San Diego-based BeneTrac has been named a preferred vendor for Web-based enrollment and benefits management by Blue Shield of California, San Francisco. The preferred Web-based enrollment vendor program was created by Blue Shield of California to benefit customer groups by offering preferred pricing on selected products and services from vendors that have undergone and passed an extensive review process. For employers, Web-based enrollment simplifies and reduces the resource-intensive work of collecting, organizing and submitting employee benefit information individually to a variety of carriers.

UnumProvident Redesigns Its Web Site

Chattanooga, Tenn.-based UnumProvident Inc. has redesigned its Web site to provide easier navigation, time-saving features, and faster access to service and information. Located at www.unumprovident.com, the redesign features helpful tools for benefits managers; electronic statements for new sales partners; instructions on how to file a claim; and an expanded newsroom.

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