Insurer hopes to Net more buyers

A new online insurance brokering service has been launched in Australia to ease customers through the tedious process of finding, buying or renewing general insurance. is a .Net-developed, Web-based insurance brokering service that compares a range of insurance policies from competing insurance firms and displays the results for customers to view before purchase.

John Saunders, managing director of InsureSimply, said the site sells home contents and motor insurance now, but plans to pursue other types of general insurance in the near future.

The site has already signed on QBE, Allianz and Calliden and has three other major insurers in the pipeline, he said.

However, despite signing three big players in the insurance market, Saunders said companies were still hesitant getting on board because they were sceptical about the Internet buying habits of consumers.

"Some companies have this view that people use the Internet for research but not to purchase, but these companies are approaching it the wrong way," he said. "We've conducted a number of surveys that indicate people are more than willing to buy insurance over the internet."

According to two surveys conducted on behalf of InsureSimply, 49 percent said they would like to talk a broker face-to-face to finalize a deal, but 42 percent said they were willing to complete the entire process online.

"Five years ago no one would be interested in this, but now we are seeing a good response," Saunders said. "In another five years I think we'll see the majority of people using a system like this."

Saunders has spent about $500,000 on development, licensing, software and infrastructure for the Web site.

Included in the start-up cost was the purchase of its brokering platform from UK-based software developer, Transactor.

"This platform has been popular among insurers in the UK, because it uses the actual insurance company's wording instead of a private contract between broker and insurer," Saunders said. "A policy comparison is also supplied so clients have the choice of what cover they want."

Like the transactor platform, InsureSimply's Web site was developed in VB.Net and ASP.Net with a SQL database to tie in customer information.

InsureSimply general manager David Neate said the only adjustments made to the platform was the localization of Australian tax and risk models.

"The architecture itself is textbook Microsoft in what you should be doing," Neate said. "There's no secondary database or anything like that. It's incredibly flexible and quick for developing and adjusting."

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