INSURER ENHANCES ONLINE DATAThe Empire Life Insurance Company (Empire Life) enhanced Trilogy, its universal life product that continues to evolve to meet the changing financial and wealth management needs of Canadians. The enhancements represent the largest number of revisions to the product since Trilogy Universal Life was introduced in September 2000. Better delivery of information is achieved through a completely revised client statement and with new online investment information.

The new, graphics-enhanced client statement uses a precise rate of return that is calculated in real time with each transaction. Advisors now have access to the up-to-date online investment information (powered by globefund.com) through the Empire Life Web site.

ONLINE USERS: LIFE WEB SITES FLUNK "RESPECT TEST"

The life insurance industry has the highest percentage of companies failing to adequately respect the online user. Such are the findings from a survey conducted by The Customer Respect Group, an Ipswich, Mass., research and consulting firm that focuses on how corporations treat their online customers.

The fourth quarter 2006 Online Customer Respect Study of the Life Insurance Industry evaluated 50 websites to create a customer respect index (CRI).

The survey evaluated on a 10-point scale online users' feelings about site usability, communication and trust. The overall CRI score for the industry was 5.1, which was significantly lower than the overall cross-industry average (C-IA) for all sites evaluated in 2006 at 5.8.

REAL-TIME INTERACTIVE VOICE RESPONSE SYSTEM

Aetna Inc. is offering an interactive voice response (IVR) system called Voice2Form to enable members with both Aetna disability and medical insurance to provide consent to participate in the insurer's Integrated Health and Disability (IHD) program. Aetna receives members' consent in real time and can begin appropriate medical management referrals and care plan coordination immediately, says Caren Kittredge, head of Disability Product.

The consent method is being used by Aetna Disability and members filing a disability claim through telephonic intake. More than 90% of those filing a claim by phone authorized consent for participation in the IHD program via the Voice2Form system, the company reports. By accessing an online electronic consent form on Aetna Navigator, Aetna's member Web site, members can complete and submit an electronic signature in real time.

NEW YORK LIFE CREATES WEB SITE TO SUPPORT WORKING WOMEN

New York Life Insurance Co. launched a Web site called www.nylcareersforwomen.com to provide information about careers in life insurance for women at all stages of professional development. The site offers details on opportunities in sales and field management. A questionnaire on the site helps readers assess their interest in a sales career.

In March, New York Life was recognized for its advocacy for women in the workplace, earning a spot on the National Association for Female Executives "Top 30 Companies for Female Executives" list. New York Life was recognized for championing women's advancement and for development and advancement of women in the workplace, including support programs, succession planning and work and life balance programs.

New York Life's Women's Market division's mission is to recruit and retain women managers and agents, increase sales to women and to discuss best practices when targeting the women's market. Most recently, the Women's Markets Division was host to a Women's Market Conference, a two-day workshop for the company's field force.

New York Life's Women's Leadership Project (WLP) was designed to strengthen the corporate culture at New York Life and enhance leadership development for women employees at all levels. By attending seminars, workshops and networking events, women employees are challenged to maximize opportunities, enhance their career development and achieve their personal best.

Judy Campbell, New York Life's senior vice president and CIO, helped launch the WLP in 2003. The October 2006 issue of Insurance Networking News features the project and Campbell, who was recognized for contributions to the insurance industry.

ONLINE ACCESS TO WC DOCUMENTS SPEEDS UP SERVICE

Boston-based Liberty Mutual has become one of the first insurers to provide people who manage workers' compensation claims with instant online access to all the related documents, such as medical reports, bills and digital photos, says Kevin Carson, who manages the new process. "What took days can now happen in seconds," he says. "Outside partners can now send electronic versions of these reports, which instantly become part of our system."

Some providers still send paper documents, which Liberty Mutual now scans into the system within a day of their arrival. The carrier's customers can view the documents through RISKTRAC, Liberty Mutual's online risk information system.

There's no need to type a summary of each report into the system, wade through paper files or copy a document and fax it, according the insurer.

Claims managers use the medical reports to flag special issues with a claim for the bill reviewers, such as a visit where a doctor treated someone for a work-related injury and a pre-existing condition not connected to work, which should not be covered by workers' compensation.

Bill reviewers see alerts on claims and can call up the online medical report to confirm the treatment was appropriate and for a work-related injury.

E-MAIL TREATED CASUALLY

Most organizations make heavy use of e-mail, yet most organizations continue to maintain a casual attitude toward its management. Such is the finding from a study conducted by AIIM (the Silver Spring, Md., Enterprise Content Management Association) of more than 1,000 end users. Sponsored by EMC, FileNet, IBM, and TOWER Software, the study: "E-mail Management: An Oxymoron?" found that when it comes to implementing e-mail management solutions, most end users prefer to link these solutions to their broader records and information management systems.

More than one in three end users (35%) in the study reported that they have "not yet begun" to address such core e-mail management issues as archiving, life cycle management, retention, and disposition. Another 41% indicate that they have begun to address e-mail management, but "much remains to be done." And only 44% of those surveyed indicate that they have a policy or strategy toward e-mail retention in their organization.

CLAIMS MANAGEMENT IMPROVING

Claims effectiveness is fast becoming a differentiating competitive feature among property-casualty companies as new measurement and process controls change the way claims are quantified, according to a new study by Conning Research & Consulting, Inc., Hartford, Conn. The study, "Property-Casualty Claims Management: Unlocking Value," examines critical changes in the insurance environment, and particularly in claims, including technology, staffing, outsourcing, regulatory, and catastrophe issues. The study is based on a survey of senior property-casualty claims executives and on statutory data analysis.

SAAS GAINING ACCEPTANCE IN EUROPE

The pace of adopting software as a service (SaaS) is accelerating in Europe, according to a report by Celent, a research firm headquartered in Boston. In the study, titled "Software as a Service in European Insurance," researchers estimate the insurance SaaS market in Europe at U.S. $25.7 million this year, and they predict it will grow over the next five years to U.S. $104.9 million.

In the report, UniRisX, an "on demand" global insurance service, was described as achieving 100% of revenue "based entirely on the Software as a Service model," says Tony Ferguson, global strategy director at UniRisX. "The insurance SaaS model is still young but is already attracting significant attention," he says. "The most innovative insurance providers have been very receptive. The ability to get products to market faster and the reduced IT infrastructure costs-not to mention the significant reduction in system downtime-have all been key factors in attracting the early adopters to UniRisX."

Ferguson says the SaaS model works for European insurers of any size. "We are engaged with large multinationals who want to launch new products quickly into emerging markets-for example, in Eastern Europe-right through to small niche insurers seeking to attract the younger generation of consumers via innovative white-labeling and affinity branding."

CLAIMS SETTLED WITHOUT PAPER

Guy Carpenter & Company Ltd., a risk and reinsurance specialist and part of the Marsh & McLennan Cos., and Amlin Plc, a Lloyd's of London insurer and reinsurer, plan to process and conduct all new claims transactions without paper.

Until now, processing claims in the market required reinsurance brokers to ship paper documents from regional offices to London and then distribute the documents by hand for review and agreement by underwriters. The old process caused delays, and getting access to claim information often proved difficult, the companies say.

SOFTWARE KEEPS WORKERS PRODUCTIVE

The Hartford Financial Services Group Inc., Hartford, Conn., has joined with LCG LewisCo Group, a Deerfield, Ill., provider of absence and disability management services, to offer software designed to keep employees productive and combat absenteeism. Dick Mucci, executive vice president of The Hartford's Group Benefits Division, says the company's software will reduce the number of lost work days, while holding down benefits costs and increasing productivity.

By integrating multiple data sources, such as disability and workers' compensation claims, The Hartford and LCG will compare employers' claims experience and trends against industry benchmarks and develop strategies to improve disability, absence and productivity outcomes.

FISERV, EXSTREAM PARTNER ON DOCUMENT MANAGEMENT SOLUTIONS

Exstream Software Inc., a Lexington, Ky., provider of enterprise document personalization solutions, entered a co-marketing partnership with Fiserv Insurance Solutions, a Cedar Rapids, Iowa unit of Brookfield, Wis.-based Fiserv Inc. and provider of software and outsourcing solutions for the insurance industry.

The agreement aligns the two companies' efforts to provide document management solutions that streamline the entire document creation and delivery process for property and casualty insurers. In a previous deal, Fiserv Insurance Solutions formed a strategic alliance with Allegient Systems, Wilton, Conn., to offer Allegient's legal bill auditing and business analysis services to Fiserv customers.

SKYWIRE TO PURCHASE DOCUCORP

Docucorp International, a Dallas-based customer communications technology company, and Skywire Software, a Frisco, Texas, provider of underwriting, business intelligence, data warehousing, agency management and integration technologies, entered into a definitive agreement under which Skywire will acquire all of Docucorp's outstanding shares in an all-cash transaction valued at approximately $127 million.

Skywire Software is a subsidiary of Hall Financial Group, a $2 billion private, diversified financial firm based in Frisco, Texas. Skywire expects the merger to be finalized in Q1 2007.

Last year, Skywire acquired InsBridge, a provider of rating and underwriting applications that support all lines of business and all major operating systems.

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