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Life Health > Life Insurance

Web-based Software Aids E-commerce

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In the past several years, the Internet has made headway into our homes and businesses. As far as the life insurance industry goes, many consumers use the Web at least to compare the prices of a variety of insurance and annuity products before they purchase a plan.

New demand has been mounting in the industry for software suites that help turn online comparison shoppers into new customers by providing both agents and consumers with more diverse content and tools.

In recent months, several software developers have begun offering products to tap such growing demand.

Tampa, Fla.-based agentLife has released SAVER3. The software suite contains a delivery channel allowing insurers and their customers to process transactions over the Internet. It allows users to complete an online sales process with a wide range of features, including the appointment process, product illustration, case analysis, report production, underwriting and case submission.

“It enables someone who is not familiar with life insurance products to model and illustrate the concept of [the product he wants to purchase],” says Todd Mezrah, CEO of agentLife.

From the insurers point of view, he notes “SAVER3 puts together marketing presentations, including illustrations and case analyses.”

The price of the software suite varies, depending on how many templates the customer wants. SAVER3 runs on Internet Explorer 5.0 and above, according to Mezrah. The software solution is easy to operate and does not require any special training, he notes.

S1 Corp., Atlanta, Ga., has released S1 Insurance 5.3, an update from the previous versions, which features online quote and sales capabilities. “The software suite enables Internet users to submit applications and purchase policies online. [It also helps] agents reduce financial overhead,” says David Gordon, vice president of global insurance at S1 Corp.

“It provides an integrated picture of customers financial position in one convenient, secure location,” he continues. “Information is available with a single login, anytime, anywhere through multiple channels.” Based on the Web, S1 5.3 allows agents to receive information they need via such mobile devices as Sprint PCS mobile phones and PDA handsets, according to Gordon.

The software suite includes a number of customer-friendly features. “It comes up with personal financial data, news and market information, financial planning tools, and money management advice,” says Gordon

Because the S1 series is aimed at much broader clienteleranging from property casualty insurance to banksthan other software suites of its class, its price varies, depending on customization needs, the company explains. S1 runs on a variety of systems ranging from UNIX to Windows.

Genelco Software Solutions, a division of Liberty Insurance Services Corp., St. Louis, is currently developing a similar software solution for life insurers, says Susan Wagy, a company spokeswoman. “We are developing a front-office Internet communications portal for agents, policyholders and home office customer service representatives,” she notes.

The new software suite is part of Genelco Life Support Plus, the companys comprehensive enterprise life administration system, which administers individual health insurance products and annuities, says Wagy.

“The portal portion [of the software suite] is designed specifically to fully integrate Life Support Plus, but will accept data from other systems,” she explains. “It will also provide 24/7 access for agents to product information, [and] a document repository for any information the home office wishes to distribute to the agent.”

The software suite consists of a Web portal portion and an administration portion, says Wagy.

It will enable policyholders to make their life status changes, to check on loan amounts and to verify information on their policies, adds Wagy.

While she declined to disclose the cost structure of the product, Wagy says the price will be determined by such criteria as user seats, the number of polices administered and other cost-determining factors.

Wagy expects that the Internet portion of the system will be easy to run. It will require simple training, such as one session on configuration needs. “It is an intuitive Internet-based system and, once access rights are provided to user,” she says, “it will have appropriate prompt messages to guide a user.”

As for training for the administration portion, Wagy says, “We will offer specific training for elements of the administration on a time and materials basis in our offices or at the client site for the appropriate user of the system.”

The software suite will run on any Web server system that supports IBM WebSphere, she notes. Users will need a standard browser such as Internet Explorer or NetScape.

Reproduced from National Underwriter Life & Health/Financial Services Edition, November 26, 2001. Copyright 2001 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.

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