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ATLANTA-With risk managers increasingly using the Internet in the course of their jobs, it follows that many brokers and insurers are offering online risk management and information services.
The annual conference of the Risk & Insurance Management Society Inc. earlier this month provided a perfect forum for many exhibitors to showcase new online offerings or refinements of existing ones.
Among those on display was the society's own RIMSNET World Wide Web site, which continues to evolve with a new look and some new features added over the past year, said Bruce R. Biesecker, director of information services for Information Inc., the Bethesda, Md.-based company that developed the RIMS site.
RIMSNET offers risk managers such services as daily news briefs selected from some 1,300 sources and a searchable database of those stories; a federal legislative tracking service that provides daily updates on laws and regulations affecting the insurance industry; and such services as conference and society information on the RIMS home page.
"Another thing that we've recently added is Travel Intelligence Online," said Mr. Biesecker. That feature gives international business travelers easy access to a wide range of information compiled by such federal agencies as the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, State Department and the Centers for Disease Control, and additional information such as British travel advisories and reports from Kroll Information Services about possible traveling risks.
There's also an online "conference center" where RIMSNET subscribers can exchange information or post
Access to the subscription RIMSNET service can be obtained through the free RIMS home page at http://www.rims.org, with the RIMS-NET service priced at $19.95 per month.
Since last year's conference, Near North Insurance Brokerage Inc. has come online with its WorldLink global risk management information source. The service came online Oct. 1 and has more than 200 subscribers, said Elizabeth Francy Demaret, vp -international accounts division at Near North in Chicago.
Offering up-to-date insurance information for more than 180 countries, WorldLink details recent insurance changes and political and economic information that might affect a company's operations in a given country.
The service also offers general insurance information, such as compulsory insurance laws, non-admitted regulatory requirements and nationalized insurance coverages; property and casualty information, including
forms, coverage and compulsory limits information; social security provisions, captive domicile information and bonding and marine regulations.
Near North is talking with political risk experts about the possibility of linking services with them, possibly by allowing WorldLink users to connect with the political risk information through hypertext links.
Users of the WorldLink service can print customized reports by topic and country from their own computer systems. WorldLink subscriptions are available through the WorldLink site, http://www.nnworldlink.com, priced at $475 per year.
Aon Group Inc. used the RIMS conference to announce the introduction of AonLine, a network of electronic services for risk managers and financial executives.
AonLink, which provides instant access to policy information and claims status as well as various other analytical tools and value-added services, is a secure system offered only to Aon clients. The system is an extension of the Access A&A system offered by Alexander & Alexander Services Inc., which Aon acquired earlier this year.
Basic services are provided through a menu of eight features: Your Portfolio; News; Analysis Tools; Internet Index; Research; Business Assist; Your Aon Team; and Discussion Group. But, "It's what's behind these buttons that varies," said Dori B. Wilson, product manager for AonLine, noting that the system is highly customized for each user.
The Analysis Tools area "is where we see the most growth potential for our clients," Ms. Wilson said. Working with online tools, users will get help with such tasks as monitoring developing storms, examining captive feasibility, benchmarking their cost of risk and gathering information on state and country insurance regulations.
The Business Assist area offers such services as travel planning, business directories and links to shipping services. The Aon Team function, meanwhile, provides e-mail links to the client's account team at the broker.
Charlotte, N.C.-based Royal Insurance Group used RIMS to demonstrate its new online extension of its Windows-based Advanced Risk Management System software product.
The secure system provides information to Royal customers and brokers, said Brian F. Flaherty, business applications department manager in Royal's systems services division. Risk managers can get policy information, analyze claims information, examine adjuster notes and study claims trends. Brokers can get similar detail on all their Royal accounts.
"This is all dynamic. This is real-time stuff," Mr. Flaherty said. "It's going up against our claims system and policy system and bringing it back on the fly."
Royal is constructing a loss control portion of the service; that portion would show customers the loss control schedule they've agreed on with the insurer, who will be providing the service and, once loss control services are provided, a listing of any recommendations.
"Our ultimate goal is to put the loss control reports online," Mr. Flaherty said.
Royal began introducing the online system to existing accounts during RIMS and will continue rolling it out this year, with plans to begin marketing it more broadly later in the year.
Also at RIMS, Wausau Insurance Cos. demonstrated its new InterAct online system, which also focuses on giving customers quick access to claims information and various analytical tools.
By providing access to the insurer's DIAL Wausau feature, InterAct gives Wausau customers real-time access to claims folders and e-mail links to Wausau staff.
The system also allows risk managers to download reports from Wausau's report library, with the capacity to transfer information to other software formats or develop customized reports.
While insurers and brokers demonstrated their new online tools, the broader issue of managing risks and insuring business transacted in cyberspace was a hot topic at RIMS.
American International Group Inc. announced the introduction of InsureSite, a policy developed in part by Atlanta-based broker Hamilton Dorsey Alston Co. to cover Internet exposures (see story, page 22).
"We wanted to put out a product that was very focused on this exciting new market," said Stan Galanski, president of the New Hampshire Insurance Co., an AIG member company. "We see this as a business we're focused on and we want to be a dominant player in."
The InsureSite program is linked to a Web site certification program offered by the National Computer Security Assn. By providing Web site security standards and verifying their use, the NCSA program reduces Web site risks. Policyholders earning NCSA certification qualify for discounts on their InsureSite premiums.
Separately, International Business Machines Corp. announced it is working with Chubb Corp., Reliance National Group Inc. and Danish insurer Codan Insurance Ltd. to design risk management tools that will allow the insurers to evaluate exposures on the Internet and in other virtual environments and develop appropriate insurance products.
To further assist the insurers, IBM developed a security methodology to categorize Internet activities according to exposure.
"We defined what we call the IBM Network Computing Standard for a secure environment," said Steven B. Adler, IBM's network computing manager for the global insurance industry in Lyngby, Denmark. "We feel the Internet is a safe and secure place to do business if it's done right."
IBM also is providing an Internet Bootcamp, a two-day seminar to educate insurers on Internet security issues.