When one of its Web or application servers crashes, executives at Fireman's Fund Insurance Co. may have to cope with business down-time, but they can at least eliminate one major headache-they won't have to repair it.That's because the Novato, Calif.-based property/casualty insurer inked an agreement in October that some consider a watershed event-an outsourcing pact involving an internally operated information technology division.

Under the terms of a 10-year agreement, Fireman's Fund, a subsidiary of Munich-based Allianz AG, plans to farm out its entire IT "help desk" responsibilities to Montreal, Quebec, Canada-based CGI Group Inc. (CGI).

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