Spinning off as an independent entity from its parent company Zurich North America, Financial Keyosk incorporated on December 31. At the same time, the Carpentersville, Ill.-based Financial Keyosk is rounding out its channel strategy as a provider of personal and small commercial financial services products by creating a joint venture with the Internet portal e-Insure Inc. Financial details of both transactions were not disclosed.Zurich North America, Schaumburg, Ill., had funded the research, development and operations of Financial Keyosk since the organization's inception in July 2000. The goal of the subsidiary, according to Zurich North America's CEO John Amore, has been to establish an "alternative distribution model" that would use technology to provide reach beyond standard distribution channels into a wider range of markets.

During the last two years, the firm built a network of "Keyosk Connected" independent "trusted advisors." The company recently introduced a technology platform called "Agency in a Box" that provides agents with software tools to sell insurance from any location as long as they have Internet access and a valid license.

In addition, Financial Keyosk launched a channel sales program with Union Planters Bank. Several more banking channel relationships have commenced and more will be added this year.

Safeco Life Enhances Online Sales

Safeco Life Insurance Co., a subsidiary of Seattle-based Safeco Corp., is making it easier for independent agents and financial advisors to sell life insurance through enhancements to its online sales tool, SAFECO Now.

The tool enables agents to quote, illustrate, apply for, and bind term life insurance coverage online 24 hours a day, in 15 minutes or less.

"We just added 30-year term, in addition to 10-, 15-, and 20-year, choice of rate class, supplementary benefits, ratings, riders, and illustrations that can be saved and e-mailed to clients," says Philip Winkel, vice president of product marketing at SAFECO Life & Investments.

"What's more, if a customer qualifies, coverage can be bound immediately when paying via electronic funds transfer, credit card or check. Then the agent is able to print out a 'Certificate of Temporary Insurance' to give to the client," Winkel adds.

The first edition of SAFECO Now was introduced last May. Since then, the application count for individual life policies is up 30% over third quarter 2001, and 25% of all new life applications come to the company through SAFECO Now, says Randy Talbot, president of SAFECO Life & Investments.

Quotesmith System Ahead Of Schedule

Quotesmith.com, an online source for auto, life and health insurance quotes based in Darien, Ill., launched its order fulfillment technology ahead of schedule. As a result, Quotesmith.com revised its financial guidance for 2002 and reaffirmed its profit guidance for 2003. The new online order-fulfillment technology enables self-directed insurance shoppers to complete applications online. The company says it is "an industry-leading advance and a radical departure from traditional telephone-based, paper-based methods of handling life and health insurance applications." According to Quotesmith, the system is powering online orders for 34 life and health companies.

Travelers Gets Real With Agents

Hartford, Conn.-based based Travelers Property Casualty has made real-time policy view accessible to independent commercial insurance agents and brokers directly through agency management systems from Applied Systems, University Park, Ill.

The capability, called Electronic Policy View (EPV), enables agents to access, view, print and save commercial policies in real-time. Agents can now access policy information directly from their Applied agency management system, without having to locate paper files or log on to a separate company Web site.

Travelers is also providing real-time quoting for small commercial insurance to independent agents with AMS Services Inc., Windsor, Conn. This capability enables agencies to obtain quotes for business owners policies from Travelers directly through their AMS management system, rather than being transferred to a proprietary site via a bridge transaction or logging into a separate company Web site.

Travelers is the first carrier to use Old Greenwich, Conn.-based IVANS Inc.'s WebSEMCI product in conjunction with AMS platforms through IVANS Transformation Station. WebSEMCI is the data collection tool designed to edit and capture company data in an agency management system. The edited data is sent to Travelers in real time based on the ACORD XML standard using IVANS Transformation Station, a managed data exchange for real-time transactions.

Web Site Supports Marketing To Seniors

Omaha, Neb.-based Mutual of Omaha Cos. is the featured senior market insurance provider on a new Web site launched by Senior Market Sales (SMS), a national insurance marketing company focusing on the senior markets, and Insuractive Inc., an Internet solutions provider based in Alexandria, Va.

Located at www.MatureHealthCenter.com, the site is designed to provide clients, independent insurance agents and agencies with information and instant quotes for Medicare supplements, long-term care, life insurance, annuities and other specialty products. Prescription drug benefits, discounts and other affiliate programs are offered to create a privileged relationship for participating agents and their clients. Agents can register at www.MatureHealthAgent.com to access sales and marketing tools as well as electronic forms and instant insurance quote services. Agents can mail or e-mail Mutual of Omaha applications directly to the client, without face-to-face contact. Agents can also contract directly with Senior Market Sales, based in Omaha, to become appointed with multiple insurance providers in states where they are licensed using the Web site.

Site Shows Benefits Of IDM

UnumProvident Corp. has launched a Web site that illustrates the benefits of integrated disability leave management (IDM). Found at www.unumprovident.com/idm, the site is intended primarily for benefits decision-makers at companies with more than 2,000 employees. The site helps customers measure their ability to realize benefits from the various absence management tools offered by Chattanooga, Tenn.-based UnumProvident. The firm's programs include return-to-work program planning, service-oriented claims management, and seamless coordination of occupational (workers' compensation) and non-occupational disability claims. The centerpiece of the site is an online readiness inventory calculator. Based on information entered by the user, the automatic calculator scores a company in three areas: organizational complexity, coordination of services and corporate culture. These scores are rolled into one "integration readiness index," which the user can choose to submit to UnumProvident for further review and follow-up.

The Hartford Taps Morningstar Service

The Hartford Financial Services Group Inc., Hartford, Conn., is enhancing its education platform for retirement program participants by providing access to Morningstar's ClearFuture, an online retirement planning and guidance service. Clear-Future offers retirement plan participants access to supplemental, objective investment planning guidance. The retirement planning and guidance services will be made available to plan participants in The Hartford's governmental retirement programs. Access to ClearFuture will be available through The Hartford's group retirement plan Web site at www.thehartford.com.

InsureZone Triples Agent Use

Fort Worth, Texas-based InsureZone closed out 2002 with more than 2,500 agents approved to submit business its single-entry, multiple-company interface (SEMCI), XML-based MarketSecure technology platform. That represents a threefold increase in the number of agents approved to use InsureZone's Web-enabled programs since Dec. 31, 2001. Nearly $33 million in small commercial premium has been quoted by InsureZone since the launch of MarketSecure in October 2001.

Online Leads For Agents

A new online lead system for helping personal lines property/casualty agents increase production through qualified sales leads is now available at www.homeownersleadsdirect.com. Introduced by Newport Beach, Calif.-based iLeads.com, the real-time marketplace takes consumer responses from hundreds of company Web sites and places them online for agents to browse, purchase and download instantly. There is no sign-up fee or initiation charge to use the services of the Homeowners Leads Direct site. Visitors are invited to browse leads in order to see what is available. Also, agents are able to select only leads that match their specific criteria based on geography, home value, and other factors. All leads are guaranteed to be no more than 72 hours old. Leads with invalid telephone numbers are replaced free of charge.

eAutoclaims Secures Equity Line of Credit

O ldsmar, Fla.-based eAutoclaims Inc. has secured an equity line of credit for up to $10 million over a period of three years, subject to a final definitive agreement and a registration statement to be filed with the SEC. The equity line of credit is being funded by an institutional investor. "This line of credit will enable us to take advantage of a greater number of opportunities, which we are now pursuing and which we believe will contribute to our growth in 2003," Eric Seidel, eAutoclaims president and CEO.

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