Lack of IT integration is number one barrier to e-business, say UK insurers

Lack of IT integration is number one barrier to e-business, say UK insurers

Attitudes to e-business have matured over the past two years but most insurers have failed to tackle the technical problems holding the market back, according to a survey conducted by Byline Research for technology vendor iE.

The researchers interviewed 30 of the UK's biggest insurers and found that two-thirds provide one or more e-business services. Technology integration problems top the list of barriers to straight-through-processing, closely followed by the lack of e-business implementation skills.

Around half the companies in the survey (47%) do not provide any kind of online connection into their back-office systems. And only a third have integrated two or more systems to support e-business.

Terri Sheperdigian, head of insurance, iE, says: "The biggest benefits to insurers and their customers will come from straight-through-processing – the ability to link online applications directly into all the back-office systems supporting the business.

"The industry has moved on significantly, both in terms of levels of investment and attitudes to e-business. But until they solve the system integration part of the puzzle, insurers will be unable either to realise the massive potential for cost savings or to add the value necessary to gain and retain customers."

Most offer an online quotation service direct to customers via the Internet or through brokers and agents over extranets. Giving customers access to online policy schedules and business administration tools for intermediaries is also commonplace.

Concerns about legal and regulatory constraints and upsetting the delicate relationship with brokers have fallen to the bottom of the list, the report claims.

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