As it pertains to information technology strategies, life insurers are regarded by many industry experts as trailing their counterparts in the property/casualty and even health insurance sector.But when Waterloo, Ont.-based Manulife Financial of Canada in September announced plans to partner with CGI Group on a $100 million IT application outsourcing initiative, it presented further evidence that life insurance companies might be collectively poised to make a bolder commitment to IT strategy.

"Life insurers have been laggards with development and execution of IT strategies, with many of them falling into what I call the 'C' category of IT best practices," states Susan Cournoyer, senior research analyst for Stamford, Conn.-based global research and consulting firm Gartner Inc.

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