Progressive Accepts E-Signatures In 17 StatesThe Progressive Direct Group of Insurance Cos., a unit of Mayfield Village, Ohio-based Progressive Corp. that sells directly to customers online and over the phone, is enabling customers to sign purchase documents electronically via an electronic signature. Progressive Direct recently made the capability available to customers in 17 states, with the goal of making it available within the next several months in all states where Progressive Direct is offered.

A Progressive Direct customer can now electronically sign an application or, if the customer chooses to have funds automatically deducted from a checking account, the customer can electronically sign the form to authorize Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT). Customers can also sign forms to reject certain coverages online at the point of sale.

In states with the e-signature capability, a Progressive Direct customer who decides to purchase a policy online is offered the choice of signing many of the needed forms with an electronic signature or through the traditional method of having forms sent through the mail. Customers who choose the electronic signature option are asked some questions to verify their identity and are then presented with online exact replicas of the required signature forms. Signing a form is as easy as keying in their name and clicking on a "continue" button.

Progressive Direct customers who opt to sign forms electronically may still have to conduct some post-sale business by mail, such as if they need to provide proof of prior insurance or home ownership. The company is developing processes to accomplish those tasks online, too.

In addition, Progressive Direct is exploring ways to adapt the technology for use by the Drive Group of Progressive Insurance Companies, which sells to consumers through independent agents and brokers.

Chubb Tools Manage Employee Lawsuit Exposure

To help companies, nonprofit organizations, financial institutions, and health care institutions reduce their exposure to employee lawsuits, the Chubb Group of Insurance Cos., Warren, N.J., has added several new online tools to its employment practices liability loss prevention program. The enhanced program now includes ChubbWorks, a Web site that provides Chubb customers and insurance agents access to a variety of loss-prevention tools at no charge. The tools include: model employment policies, procedures and forms; employment practices self-audit checklists; online training for managers and supervisors on sexual harassment, discrimination and wrongful termination; a library of links to governmental information resources and publications covering employment practices liability (EPL) case law, loss prevention, health and wellness, workplace leadership and workplace news; and "My Workplace," a section where employers can store online handbooks and provide a suggestion box for worksite improvements and a notices board and a directory of users. The median jury award in EPL lawsuits rose 18% in 2003 to $250,000, according to Jury Verdict Research.

Florida Blues Offers Comparison Tool In Spanish

Jacksonville, Fla.-based Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida has expanded its contract with Subimo, LLC, a Chicago-based provider of health care decision support tools, to include the launch of the first Spanish version of Subimo's Hospital Advisor. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida has incorporated the Spanish version of the Hospital Advisor as a component of its enhanced Web site. The Spanish version of Hospital Advisor provides access to comparative hospital information and encourages Spanish-speaking members to become more active participants in their own health care.

IVANS Kicks off AgentExpress Program

IVANS Inc., the Old Greenwich, Conn.-based provider of network and e-commerce solutions for the insurance industry, launched AgentExpress, a program to encourage agents to use broadband connections to retrieve carrier downloads. Agents whose carriers are sending information to IVANS E-Commerce Server (ECS) can use broadband connections to retrieve files. IVANS broadband download specialists called more than 4,000 agents who were not yet using their broadband connections for download and walked them through the configuration, which takes less than 10 minutes. IVANS also sent a fact sheet to agents explaining the four steps needed to configure their agency management systems for broadband download. Other ongoing program tactics include Web conferences, e-mails and faxes.

MassMutual Introduces Wireless Enrollment

MassMutual Retirement Services, a business unit of Springfield, Mass.-based MassMutual Financial Group, will pilot a wireless enrollment system designed to make it easier for workers to join their employers' retirement plans and plan for their retirement. To implement the new system, called e4-for Electronic Enhanced Enrollment Experience-MassMutual is working with Ameranth Wireless Inc., a San Diego-based developer of wireless technology. MassMutual planned to pilot e4 with select clients in March and make it increasingly available as an enrollment option throughout 2005. In the new enrollment process, participants will use specially programmed hand-held Pocket PCs, pre-populated with their personal information, which will simulate the experience of enrolling on the Web. The information they enter will be fed wirelessly to a laptop computer operated by a MassMutual communications specialist. By monitoring participants' real-time progress, the communications specialist can tailor the instruction.

Quotetravelinsurance.com Adds Features, Changes Name To squaremouth.com

Quotetravelinsurance.com, St. Pete Beach, Fla., has changed its name to squaremouth.com. The company also added features to its site-at www.squaremouth.com-which enables travelers to compare every travel insurance product instantly, and research and purchase insurance plans. Squaremouth.com visitors can obtain and compare quotes from more than 60 plans by answering eight questions. Visitors can then compare plans side-by-side, show any individual coverage benefit for all plans, check rating for each benefit and purchase plans directly with instant PDF policy documentation.

InsuranceNoodle Offers OneBeacon OnePac P&C

Chicago-based InsuranceNoodle and OneBeacon Insurance Group, Boston, have signed an agreement whereby InsuranceNoodle will offer the carrier's OnePac P&C solution to the more than 2,400 independent commercial agencies currently using InsuranceNoodle's proprietary, Web-based technology platform. OneBeacon's OnePac P&C solution offers many built-in coverages and more than 57 customized and special coverage extension endorsements. Through InsuranceNoodle, agencies can write and service small commercial business and provide their customers access to 11 carriers. OneBeacon offers coverage through 13 programs and more than 300 classes of small business in California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and the District of Columbia and has filings pending in Virginia.

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