The top reason insurers embark on technology programs is to grow their business, according to a consulting firm’s survey of insurers’ chief information officers.

Those findings were revealed during a Webinar presented by Celent L.L.C., Boston, a member of Oliver Wyman Group, which is owned by Marsh & McLennan Companies Inc., New York.

Craig Weber, Celent senior vice president, said that 87% of property and casualty CIOs and 80% of life and health CIOs placed driving the business as the main reason for information technology initiatives this year.

Weber called this “a stark difference from previous years.”

There was a split on other options. For instance, 74% of p&c respondents saw ease of doing business as a major reason for IT initiatives, while 74% percent of those on the life side saw cost reduction as the main reason.

The results underscore the fact that “growth is clearly on the agenda,” said Weber.

Weber said that the survey could not be viewed as a statistical trend of what insurers are doing with their technology investments, but is an anecdotal indicator of what is happening.

When asked how the economic crisis affected IT investment, Weber said 54% of the respondents said the cost of proposed projects were scaled back in 2009, while there was an even split of 32% percent of CIOs who said either projects were reduced or staff and contractor levels were reduced.

What was a good sign, despite the recession, he said, was that insurers did not perform a wholesale cutting in their IT operations.

“Stuff is still happening,” said Mr. Weber, adding that when it comes to investing in technology, “If you are not moving the ball forward, than you are falling behind.”

The Webinar was sponsored by the ACORD/LOMA Systems Forum.