Although many insurers are taking the necessary steps internally to grow their books of business, many realize that they need to look outward and align with third-party distribution channels that have developed their own internal IT competencies.The impetus to raise the stakes on small-business insurance marketing is significant because no single carrier has more than 3%-4% share of market, says Ed Gillman, president and CEO of AgentSecure, an Atlanta-based insurance agency serving the small-business market.

Chicago-based InsuranceNoodle put its technology infrastructure in place in late 2000 and then set out to partner with diverse insurers-ones that held expertise in a wide range of small-business insurance and possessed what the company calls an "appetite" for business risk, explains Don Urbanciz, CEO of InsuranceVianet, the holding company for InsuranceNoodle and InsureVianet. When InsuranceNoodle was launched, it aligned with partners that include Zurich, AIG, Chubb and The Hartford. At the same time, these insurers, in an effort to spread their businesses thin, also partnered with more than one distribution partner.

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