A dominant trend among insurers is the rise in self-service features at insurance company Web sites-from agent locaters to online claim reporting. That's the conclusion reached by IVANS' 2001 Web Site survey, which examined 110 property and casualty insurance Web sites in January. In addition to supporting customer-agent relations, the Internet is enhancing customer service for carriers. Of the Web sites reviewed, more than 85% provide customer-service information, 16% enable customers to check a payment, 16% provide policy updates and changes, and 20% offer online claims reporting. Insurers are recognizing that the Internet has put consumers in command and are providing them with tools on their Web sites to become more educated, according to the Greenwich, Conn.-based IVANS. Some 64% of the reviewed sites provide access to industry information such as research and another 34% include links to industry Web sites. Only 18% of carrier sites offer online quoting and 5% are selling directly to the consumer.AscendantOne Gains Second Round Funding

AscendantOne Inc., a developer of property and casualty front-office insurance solutions, recently received new funding from Minneapolis-based equity partners US Bancorp Piper Jaffray Ventures and Century Capital Management, Boston. First-round capital funding was secured in May of last year, and the company officially began operation in June. AscendantOne also recently relocated to new corporate headquarters in Nashua, N.H., to accommodate significant growth and to establish facilities for customer interaction. The move comes in conjunction with staffing expansion in product development and quality assurance, as well as in customer care, sales and business development.

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