Carriers' IT Priorities May Be ChangingAlthough most carriers now have Web site functionality that assists agents, less than one in five is using the Internet as a distribution channel for sales. That's one of the conclusions drawn from a survey of 80 carriers conducted by IVANS Inc., Greenwich, Conn. The survey reveals that 70% of the respondents have Web sites that assist their agents, but only 15% are using the Web to support online sales. But carriers' IT priorities may be changing, according to another survey of 248 insurance top executives conducted by Tillinghast-Towers Perrin, New York. That survey finds that carriers currently rate technology investments in business processes and operations as their top priority, but during the next three years, the top IT priority will be investing in new technologies that support distribution and customer management. Meanwhile, 35% of the respondents say that within three years, up to 10% of sales will be conducted via new technologies, compared with only 16% of respondents who say Internet sales currently account for 5% to 10% of sales. And 21% of respondents believe that within three years, more than 26% of their sales will be conducted via the Internet and other new technologies.

Hartford Life Launches Site For Group Benefits

Hartford Life, a member of Hartford, Conn.-based The Hartford Financial Services Group Inc., has launched a Web site for its group life and disability insurance customers. Users can log onto http://groupbenefits.thehartford.com to find information on Hartford Life's group products and services, along with a directory of sales offices, contact information and claim contacts. Administrators of employee benefits programs can get information on the site through Employer View, and registered producers can access Producer View for resources on managing their business.

Travelers Mobilizes With SEMCI

Hartford, Conn.-based Travelers Insurance Co. has introduced real-time single-entry, multiple-company interface (SEMCI) for quoting personal auto insurance policies. Based on ACORD standards, the technology will enable agents to quote an auto insurance policy in real-time directly from their Applied Systems Inc. agency management system. Travelers also added new functionality to its batch-SEMCI process by enabling agents to make an auto policy change from within their agency management system. Travelers announced its latest advancement for small commercial lines agents as well-the capability for a real-time SEMCI claims inquiry using the ACORD XML standard, which will permit an agency to perform a claims inquiry in real-time directly from its Applied Systems agency management system through IVANS Transformation Station.

Great American Adds Voice Response For Agents

Building on the functionality of its AgLite Wireless program, Cincinnati-based property/casualty insurer Great American Insurance Co. is providing its crop insurance agents with a new feature-anytime access to policy information via automated voice response. AgLite Voice uses the latest voice recognition technology and middleware with a seamless interface to the company's proprietary legacy systems. Agents calling the toll-free number can obtain real-time access to claims, billing and other policy information around the clock. AgLite Wireless was built on a platform that has enabled agents to access information via a Web-enabled cell phone, Palm VII, PocketPC or the Internet.

R&SA Sets Up A Global Web Portal

Royal & SunAlliance Insurance Group is unveiling a global Web portal that will provide its employees, intermediaries and customers targeted access to business-critical applications and information through a single sign-on interface. Developed by Boston-based Corechange Inc., the portal enables Royal & SunAlliance to create a personalized work environment for employees, who can access with one password any application they need to do their job. Following deployment of the solution in Denmark, Royal & SunAlliance plans to launch it in the United Kingdom, Asia/Pacific, Canada and the United States over the next year.

N.Y. Life Investments Expands Web Services

New York Life Investment Management LLC, Parsippany, N.J., has launched a site for Retirement Services at www.nylim.com/retirement. The site features information about the company's retirement products and services, online account access, and a registered representative and consultant resource center. In addition, the New York Life Investment has revamped its main site at www.nylim.com, as well as its MainStay Funds site at www.mainstayfunds.com. The MainStay Funds site has been redesigned for easier access to account information, improved navigation, and new interactive options.

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