Just as ships are judged by their displacement of water, probably one of the best measures of a technology's success is the disruption it leaves in its wake. If this is so, new underwriting systems and rating engines are-for insurers-the technological equivalents of battleships and aircraft carriers. Like those ships, these modern systems are outfitted with an impressive array of technology. Geared toward non-technical business users, they sport sleek graphical interfaces and seek to make rules more visible to end-users. They are invariably Web-based, and enable users to pull data, including geocoding, spatial and motor vehicle C.L.U.E. reports, in real time.

The result of this influx on new technology is that rating and underwriting, once quintessential back office functions, are now moving to the front office.

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