NEW YORK -- Technology has become critically important to how insurers manage risk, share information with producers and support Internet sales and customer service, a panel of carrier CEOs said June 16 at Standard & Poor's 20th annual insurance seminar in New York City.

Speaking to more than 480 attendees, the CEOs of MetLife, St. Paul Travelers, New York Life and Liberty Mutual agreed that technology is vitally important to how they measure risk, analyze data and support distribution through agents and online.

"We have made significant investments in the Internet because there is an enormous opportunity to reach out to millions of households," said Robert Benmosche, chairman, CEO and president of MetLife. "We have invested in technology at the producer level to bring everything (to them) online and in real time."

Attention to distribution is also high with St. Paul Travelers, said Jay Fishman, the company's president and CEO. "If you don't give the producers the right tools, you're dust," Fishman said. "Technology is absolutely critical to our business. The ability to slice and dice data is important to the financial well-being of our company."

Business continuity and risk management are areas where technology is vitally important to New York Life, added Seymour Sternberg, chairman and CEO of the New York-based company.

At Liberty Mutual, senior management meets regularly with IS staff to debate and discuss technology implementations, said Edmund Kelly, the company's chairman president and CEO.

The CEOs shared their view on the biggest challenges that their companies--and the industry as a whole--are facing. Among the front-burner issues they spoke on were tort reform, on-going concerns about asbestos claims, and terrorism coverage.

Risk management was also a key theme echoed by the CEOs, with St. Paul Travelers' Fishman noting that insurers have some difficulty managing risk because there are no federal solvency standards due to state regulation of the industry. "Those in favor of a federal charter see this as meaningful progress in capital and risk management," he said. "I think it's a step in the right direction."


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