Allstate Introduces Online Transactions For ProducersAllstate Financial Group, a business unit of Northbrook, Ill.-based Allstate Corp., has launched, a Web site that uses new technology and functionality to provide Allstate producers with online financial and administrative transactional capabilities. With the introduction of the new site, Allstate producers who are registered to sell for Lincoln Benefit Life will be able to do business 24 hours a day. They can use the site to service accounts with inquiries and policy details, account and sub-account information, pending/inforce status and statements, transactional capabilities for address and billing changes, premium allocations, fund transfers and rebalancing, and loans. The site also provides forms and product support including search, download and catalog forms, as well as product rules, fund information and announcements. Finally, the site offers sales support with marketing materials and sales tips, financial tools, illustrations and projections.

Cooperation Needed Between Corporate IT, Risk Managers

An executive with a global commercial insurer is urging information technology departments to share information with risk managers and insurers regarding attacks on corporate Web sites and computer networks. Without knowing the full extent and nature of these attacks, the insurance industry is unable to develop products essential to helping protect businesses from the potentially significant operational and financial consequences of a wide-scale or targeted cyber attack, says Alan Driscoll, senior vice president of Warren, N.J.-based Chubb & Son. The development of cyber insurance products has been slow thus far due to the lack of cyber loss data. Only a small number of insurers have put cyber products in the marketplace, and most do not address adequately-if at all-the severest cyber perils, he says.

Travelers Aids Commercial Agents in Going Paperless

Hartford, Conn.-based Travelers Property Casualty Co. has launched a new electronic policy view capability to help its independent agents go paperless. The capability enables agents to access, view, print and save commercial insurance policies in real-time. Agencies can now search for policy transactions and view the resulting policy paper online. The online view is an exact copy of the traditional paper policy received by an agency or insured. Electronic policy view can be quickly searched for specific coverages, thereby eliminating the time needed to obtain a paper copy of the policy and perform a search manually. Electronic policy view displays commercial business insurance policies processed through Travelers' various policy issuance systems, using state-of-the-art technology to convert files into electronic images once they are received from the various policy issuance systems. It is currently available for small business insurance policies via Travelers Agency Portal.

Web Is High-Income Investor's Top Choice

Thirty-five percent of high-income professionals admit to using the Internet for financial planning help, which is an 18 percent increase from last year, according to the third annual Nationwide Financial Survey of High Income Professionals. Eleven percent say the Internet is the source of financial planning help they use most frequently. "The survey still reflects that the relationship between advisor and client is irreplaceable and most valuable, but the Internet is significantly growing in popularity with high-income clients as a tool for education and information," says Michael Butler, senior vice president of Nationwide Financial Distributors, Inc. (the sales unit of Nationwide Financial, Columbus, Ohio. "They clearly rely upon it as a supplement to their in-person financial advisor."

State Farm Bank Now Offering Visa CheckCard

State Farm Bank is introducing the State Farm Bank Visa CheckCard, which gives personal checking and interest checking account-holders the ability to make a purchase everywhere Visa is accepted and to access their accounts from five ATM networks (with 200,000 locations) across the United States. Customers do not need to be a policyholder of State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., Bloomington, Ill., to open a State Farm Bank account. Customers who use the CheckCard won't have to carry a checkbook or cash. Once the purchase is made, the money is simply deducted from their account. In addition, cardholders pay no annual fees to use it. State Farm Bank-formally chartered by the Office of Thrift Supervision in November 1998 as State Farm Financial Services, F.S.B.-opened in pilot areas of Central Illinois and St. Louis, Mo. in May 1999. Its emphasis is on consumer-oriented financial products, complementing State Farm's focus on personal lines of insurance, such as auto and homeowners.

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