InsureZone Finds Capital to Expand TechnologyFort Worth, Texas-based InsureZone Inc. has secured $8.2 million in new capital funding. The investment was tendered by Buena Venture Associates, a Texas-based investment partnership focused primarily on the delivery of financial services over the Internet. Approximately two-thirds of the capital outlay will be devoted to enhancing InsureZone's technology initiatives, including delivery of a new platform to enable end-to-end integration with rating and underwriting engines. InsureZone has strategic alliances with Chase Manhattan Bank, Wells Fargo & Co., PurchasePro, BuildNet and other brands that have established business relationships with small-business owners.

Nationwide Retirement Adds Web Functionality

Nationwide Retirement Solutions, a subsidiary of Columbus, Ohio-based Nationwide Financial, has expanded the employer-reporting feature on its Web site, Employers can now access various plan-specific reports including demographic information, participation data and asset contributions. The site also provides industry news, market and regulatory news, and interactive retirement-planning calculators. Nationwide Retirement Solutions provides services to more than 1.5 million state, county and municipal employees.

Penn Mutual Redesigns Web Site

Horsham, Pa.-based The Penn Mutual Life Insurance Co. has unveiled a Web site redesign that the carrier believes will provide agents and financial advisors with a wide array of information and programs to enhance their businesses. Building the elements in its Producer Place extranet link on the site,, the provider of life insurance and annuity products is furnishing its network of agents and financial advisors with downloadable forms and sales ideas, continually updated rate information, marketing materials and access to PML University, a virtual sales training center.

Lincoln Financial Provides Online Advice

Lincoln Financial Group and mPower, a registered investment advisor, are partnering to make online investment advice, guidance and education available directly to plan sponsors and participants in the Lincoln Alliance Program. The online service includes personalized, fund-specific investment allocation recommendations, in addition to a comprehensive set of educational information and tools to help users better understand the fundamentals of investing and managing their retirement savings.

ACORD Plans Global XML Standard

Citing the need for data standards to address financial services convergence and expansion of e-business opportunities, ACORD will integrate its existing XML standards for property/casualty and life into a common standard. The initiative, dubbed "eMerge," will also incorporate the Joint Venture (JV) reinsurance/large commercial standards, currently managed by WISe. Tana Sabatino, assistant vice president of standards for Pearl River, N.Y.-based ACORD, says the effort will assist both carriers and software developers. "For insurance companies, the need to communicate between lines of business to provide a single customer profile is very strong. Our focus is on external communications with third-party administrators or other entities. A common data standard will streamline and simplify the transfer of information." ACORD intends to have a pilot version of the standard published by June 2002, and vote on the final standard by November 2002. Separately, members of WISe, or Worldwide Insurance e-commerce, transferred to ACORD, as of July 1. WISe, a not-for-profit cooperative of 40 global insurers, reinsures and brokers based in Brussels, will continue to offer its trusted trading and business center services, says Kathrine Huelster, chief operating officer of WISe.

InsWeb Launches Health Insurance Program

Sacramento, Calif.-based InsWeb Corp., an online insurance marketplace, is designating as its exclusive provider of online health insurance quotes. QuickQuote, founded in 1995, initially specialized in life insurance, and now also offers several health insurance products. In 1999, QuickQuote was purchased by the Dutch company, ING Group, one of the world's largest financial institutions. As defined by a two-year online distribution agreement, InsWeb and QuickQuote plan to market individual health insurance, Medicare supplement insurance and travel health insurance beginning in June. Short-term health insurance, individual dental insurance and small-group health insurance are expected to be available later this year. The new program will expose QuickQuote to InsWeb customers. In exchange, InsWeb will receive a share of QuickQuote agency commissions from first-time policy sales and the gradually increasing number of policy renewals.

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