AlliancesThe Hartford Financial Services Group, Hartford, Conn., is providing low-cost auto and homeowners insurance to Sears, Roebuck and Co.'s 60 million customers nationwide. The service, which began July 1, enables Sears' customers to obtain insurance quotes either over the phone or via the Internet. The Hartford is assuming the underwriting responsibilities for the policies offered, while Sears, based in Hoffman Estates, Ill., is generating revenues based on the volume of its customers who participate in the program., a San Francisco-based Internet provider to the automotive service industry, is providing technology that will enable Progressive Auto Insurance Co. policyholders to locate collision repair facilities in the company's network via Progressive Web site at The search function will help consumers find shops in Progressive's network that have been pre-approved and whose work comes with a limited lifetime warranty. The program will also enable more than 800 collision repair facilities in Progressive's network to build online marketing and customer service capabilities using CarStation SiteManager software.

New York-based American International Group recently developed electronic links with three Web-based financial service and personal finance providers that will enable visitors to their Web sites to directly access to AIG's Web site. The three financial services providers are, and Braintree, Mass.-based E*Trade Group Inc.

Aon Corp. has formed a strategic alliance with, a Berkeley, Calif.-based provider of online financial administration products for the health care industry. The alliance will enable Aon, which is based in Chicago, to deliver a broader selection of products to its clients, including hospitals, CFOs, business offices and independent physicians associations.

Atlanta-based InsureRate is providing access to insurance services to the customers of Q UP, an Austin, Texas-based company that providers Internet banking and e-commerce solutions. Q UP customers will have bank-branded access to the InsureRate Network, an online source for insurance products including annuities, term life, homeowners and automobile policies. InsureRate is the online insurance marketplace of HomeCom Communications Inc., Atlanta.

Fidelity National Financial, a provider of title insurance and real estate related services based in Irvine, Calif., is offering lenders and mortgage brokers connectivity to Fidelity's products and services that can be captured through the aggregator's Web site. The program enables Web aggregators to provide their customers instant access to Fidelity National's entire product line. Fidelity will administer its services through its National Lender Solutions division, while integration and technology services for the endeavor will be performed by Santa Ana, Calif.-based Micro General Corp.

eRisks, an enterprise risk management service provider based in New York, recently secured $14.5 million in financing from a group of investors that includes Aventic AG, Risk Management Solutions Inc, Katalyst Venture Partners and Internet Finance Partners.The funds will be used to accelerate the company's technology initiatives and product line, according to company executives., a Palm Harbor, Fla.-based provider of Web-based services for the processing of vehicle repair claims, has merged with Columbia, S.C.-based Premier Express Claims, an independent third-party provider of insurance claims administration. PEC provides insurance carriers with such services as first notice of loss, after-hours and overflow call handling, and coordination of auto glass, towing and collision claims. With $4.2 million in sales, Premier Express Claims has 21 existing insurance clients and more than 4,100 vendors. is integrating PEC's glass network into its own Internet-based "bricks to clicks" claims processing system. Within the consolidation, PEC's management team will be absorbed into The call centers of both companies will remain fully operational and will be connected via the Internet.

Electric Insurance Co., a Beverly, Mass.-based direct insurance carrier of auto and homeowners' policies, has affiliated with Swansea, Mass-based FirstFed America Bancorp Inc., and its insurance subsidiary, FirstFed America Bancorp LLC. The venture will enable bank customers to have direct access to Electric Insurance through First Fed's Web site. Specifically, FirstFed customers who are conducting onling banking transactons can obtain quotes for various types of insurance policies by clicking onto a hot link that connects them to Electric Insurance's Web site, at Customers also can dial a toll-free number and obtain policy quotes or to speak to a customer service representative.

Fiserv Inc., Brookfield, Wis., will offer portal and other Web services to its financial institution customers through an arrangement with Atlanta-based VerticalOne Corp. Fiserv will offer account aggregration services from VerticalOne and a portal solution that can be branded by the financial institution. In addition to providing a gateway to financial services, the portal will enable a financial institution customer to see a personalized site that contains news and other information. Fiserv also will expand the offering with Internet service provider services, enabling financial institutions to offer customers Internet connections that launch directly to their branded portal site.

Answer Financial Inc., Los Angeles, is providing online access to its insurance and personal financial products through Digital Insight's Internet portal, AXIS eCommerce. Digital Insight, based in Calabasas, Calif., has more than 20 content, service and product providers for its financial services portal.


Mynd, Columbia, S.C., has introduced a browser-based application geared to extend a property & casualty company's reach to agents and third-party affiliates. Utilizing Microsoft's Internet technology, the iSolution software is designed to run on the Internet or a corporate intranet. Depending on the enterprise system used, agents can inquire about policy, billing and claims status for personal auto, commercial auto, homeowners, dwelling fire, business owner's policy and workers' compensation. By integrating with a company's existing enterprise system, an agent can avoid the added expense of implementing a separate rating engine, fostering a more accurate quoting system.

In response to the growing data base connectivity between benefits, human resources and payroll administration functions, Aetna U.S. Healthcare, the health benefits arm of Aetna Inc., Hartford, Conn., has expanded its Web-based EZLink benefits and human resources administration application to include integrated payroll processing capabilities. The application, EZLink Plus-provided by Genesys Software Systems Inc., Methuen, Mass.-enables users to receive benefits, HR and payroll administration services integrated in one Web-based solution. EZLink Plus provides administration for a full menu of benefit plans, including health, life and disability, with real-time connectivity to Aetna's and Genesys' payroll processing systems.

Charlotte, N.C.-based Transamerica Reinsurance has introduced a new version of its TARSAS reinsurance self-administration system. The Windows-based program uses an Oracle data base and client/server technology, which enables it to increase its capacity and multi-company capability, and also enables users to manage large and complex policy databases.

BenefitPoint, an Internet-based employee benefits manager and distributor of group insurance and financial products based in San Francisco, has developed software that provides live, Web-based training for its brokers, carriers, employees and consulting firm affiliates. Developed by Boston-based Centra Software, the Centra99 application enables these business affiliates to connect within a virtual classroom setting to promote the efficient distribution and management of group insurance and financial products. BenefitPoint expects to reduce its training costs 67% following implementation of Centra99.

PeopleSoft Inc. recently launched PeopleSoft 8, a new generation of Internet, best-in-class eBusiness applications. The suite of applications includes customer relationship management, supply chain management, human resource management, financials and professional services automation. The Santa Clara, Calif.-based cocmpany built the applications entirely on Internet architecture.

The FREEDOM Group, a unit of Milwaukee-based Fiserv Inc., has rolled out an Internet-based service for insurance companies seeking a cost-effective method to train agents on product features and benefits. The product, FREEDOM Lifeline, provides insurance agents with 24-by-7 access to a searchable knowledge base drawn from previous sales and service requests. If the search doesn't produce the information needed, an agent can request support through an online form or e-mail. Support requests are automatically routed to the most appropriate representative.

HNC Insurance Solutions, a division of San Francisco-based HNC Software Inc., has rolled out a new generation of medical bill review software for property and casualty insurance medical claims, including workers' compensation and auto. The extension of both CompAdvisor and AutoAdvisor enable users to input bill data at a quicker pace through scanning technology, optical character recognition and electronic data interchange. In tandem, all three functions are expected to help minimize manual data entry.

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