Although the handful of commercial property/casualty carriers using online policy processing recognize the technology's limitations, they remain confident that offering online services will improve their competitive position."Last year we quoted about $600 million worth of business online, and we sold $146 million online," says Mark Benson, executive vice president, CyberComp, a Lawrenceville, N.J.-based subsidiary of Reliance Group Holdings. The annual premium for most of those workers compensation policies averaged $10,000.

Because the cost to process that business-particularly the underwriting component-is so much lower, CyberComp is adding real money to its bottom line. "There is clearly a savings," Benson says. "In 1998, we quoted $300 million in business using two underwriters; last year we quoted $600 million with the same two underwriters and this year it will probably be $800 million or $900 million with two underwriters."

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