Insurance companies have lagged behind Corporate America in adopting the Internet as a distribution channel. But over the last two years, carriers have directed IT and advertising resources toward developing the technology and promoting their Internet sales strategies.

"Insurers have been focused on the top line," says Todd Eyler, senior research analyst at Forrester Research Inc., Cambridge, Mass. And despite the fact that online insurance sales haven't taken off and many insurance-related dot-coms are dropping by the wayside, carriers can still leverage the Internet investments they've made-automating underwriting, integrating data and Web-enabling their systems-to improve the bottom line.

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