Online sales of personal property and casualty insurance totaled just $11 million in 1999, a miniscule slice of a $133 billion market. However, buoyed by technology improvements that will make it easier for consumers to apply for insurance, Internet-based property and casualty insurance sales will skyrocket to $14 billion by 2004.That's according to a recent report from IDC, a Framingham, Mass.-based technology research and consulting firm, which estimates that carriers garner more than $11 billion annually from consumers who shop for insurance online.

Although consumers are increasing their use of the Internet to search for the best prices, a small percentage of those consumers actually purchase policies online. Applying for insurance online is so convoluted, many consumers abandon the process, says Jennifer Blackmore, senior research analyst for IDC's eInsurance program and author of the report.

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