Kaiser Gets Consumers Up and MovingIn keeping with its mandate of promoting health and wellness through prevention, Oakland, Calif.-based Kaiser Permanente has launched its 10,000 Steps walking/fitness program. By clicking on the Web site at kp.org/totalhealth, members and non-members can sign up for the program for a nominal fee and purchase a high-end pedometer. Offered in association with HealthPartners, a Minneapolis-based managed care organization, 10,000 Steps is one of an array of onsite and online strategies from Kaiser. The health insurer recently rolled out its companion Healthy Lifestyle program, a series of online programs that address weight management and fitness, smoking cessation, stress reduction and nutrition.

MassMutual's 'Learn' Focuses On Life Events

Springfield, Mass.-based The MassMutual Financial Group has launched a new section of its consumer Web site to provide information on how financial products and services can help individuals prepare for life events and meet new life challenges. Called "Learn," the material is included on the "For Individuals" portion of www.massmutual.com. "Learn" includes three subsections: Prepare for Life's Events, Educational Articles, and Calculators. The first subsection, Prepare for Life's Events, provides information on the financial concerns for 16 different life events, including changing/losing a job, retirement, buying a home, getting married, establishing an estate plan and providing elder care. The Financial Calculators' portion includes 32 financial calculators for personal finance and budgeting, retirement planning, mortgage and loan management, tax and insurance planning, and business planning. A fourth subsection- Markets and Research-is planned for the first quarter of this year.

AI Risk Expands ProgramConnect

The AI Risk division of Risk Specialists Companies Inc., a member company of New York-based American International Group Inc., has expanded AI Risk ProgramConnect, an online specialty lines quote and bind system designed to expedite and simplify the process for surplus lines agents and brokers. Launched in 2003, ProgramConnect provides users with instant premium indications for specialty lines based on essential account information when specified limits and coverages are requested. Through a streamlined application, users can access a summary of applicant, policy and premium information for new business and mid-term renewals. Instant-bind capabilities are available for certain lines of business, if the application meets pre-approved underwriting guidelines. With the enhanced ProgramConnect, brokers and agents will have enhanced access to a wide range of specialty lines coverage online, including home inspectors liability, architects and engineers liability, employment practices liability, liquor legal liability, miscellaneous professional liability and railroad protective liability.

Agents And Brokers Can Ask An Expert

Independent agents and brokers looking for answers to insurance and financial services questions can turn to the Virtual University's "Ask an Expert" service. The VU is an online insurance educational and informational resource program offered by the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA), Alexandria, Va. The new subscription service enables users to submit questions via an online form to one or more of the three dozen insurance and agency management experts. The individuals are credentialed and knowledgeable in the industry, according to the Big "I", and can offer expertise in the areas of agency management, sales, customer service, public relations, technology, the Internet, and commercial and personal insurance.

The Hartford Offer 'Quote Marine'

The paper application for Builders Risk coverage has been replaced by an electronic application submission, rating, quoting and binding from The Hartford Financial Services Group Inc., Hartford, Conn. Now, agents may be able to place marine coverage in minutes instead of days. The Hartford's new Quote Marine technology tool enables agents to sell, service and manage Builders Risk accounts-around the clock-from The Hartford's Electronic Business Center portal. Builders Risk is the first in a series of marine products that will be available through this tool. Quote Marine enables agents to submit an application by completing as few as five concise screens. While the client waits, agents also can test the effect of different deductibles and other options on premium. If the account meets online underwriting guidelines, it can be bound and the sale completed before the client hangs up the phone or leaves the agent's office. The electronic rating, quoting and binding capability applies to new construction projects with up to $15 million in completed value. Wood-frame construction projects are not eligible. An application that does not meet online underwriting guidelines is automatically sent to a marine underwriter for consideration and will receive a response within two business days.

Web Site Compares Drug 'Best Buys'

The publisher of Consumer Reports has launched a free Web site to rate the safety, effectiveness and cost of prescription drugs. The Web site-at crbestbuydrugs.org-compares drugs for high cholesterol, pain relief and heartburn, and selects a "best buy" in each category. In the next two years, 20 categories of drugs will be analyzed. Medical information for the site is drawn from published studies analyzed by a research center that is providing the information to 12 states for their Medicaid programs. To be considered a "best buy," the drug must have a safety record as good as others in the same category and be priced significantly lower than the most costly drug.

Progressive Launches New Site To Drive Consumers To Independent Agents

Mayfield Village, Ohio-based Progressive Insurance has launched its newest Web site to highlight the important role that independent agents and brokers play in Progressive's business model. Drive Insurance from Progressive is the new brand designed to help independent agents and brokers grow their business and was introduced by the company in September. The Web site-at www.driveinsurance.com-is a key component of Drive's marketing campaign, which communicates to consumers the advantages that independent agents provide over captive agents. Consumers who see Drive television advertising will be directed to the site to get more information and to find a local agency.

ASC X12 Launches Interpretation Web Site

The Accredited Standards Committee (ASC) X12 and the Data Interchange Standards Association (DISA), Alexandria, Va., have launched the ASC X12 Implementation Guide Request for Interpretation Web site. The Accredited Standards Committee X12 is accredited by the American National Standards Institute and develops e-business exchange standards in X12 electronic data interchange (EDI) and XML formats. The new site initially gives visitors "access to the experts" in the ASC X12 Insurance Subcommittee (ASC X12N) for implementation guides adopted under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). The site also enables guest to submit detailed questions about interpretation of the guides. The site is located at www.x12.org by clicking on Quick Links and choosing X12 Interpretations within the pull-down menu.

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