Imarket could help halt over-charging

Polaris has entered exploratory talks with brokers, insurers and software houses to determine whethe...

Polaris has entered exploratory talks with brokers, insurers and software houses to determine whether imarket could be used to ensure brokers do not get over-charged by insurers.

Analysis is already underway to define standards for account reconciliation, and avoid the discrepancies that often occur between brokers' and insurers' accounts. The results are expected to be released in 2005. Philip Nunn, marketing manager, Polaris explained: "There is often a discrepancy between what a broker needs to pay and what the insurer bills. This creates a huge amount of work.

"We are looking at solutions to this, and if there is a solution, what we could do. This obviously depends on whether our commercial integration programme is a success or not."

Mr Nunn added that it would look to expand the use of imarket to "other areas" if it managed to successfully connect brokers' and insurers' back offices.

Polaris managing director, Martin McLachlan, was quick to point out that the delivery of commercial e-trading in 2005 was still the number one priority for the initiative. He added: "Insurer and software house integration plans are well advanced and we are already exchanging test messages between software houses and insurer systems via the imarket portal. Insurers are now pairing up with software houses to deliver commercial products to brokers. We are very optimistic for 2005.

"We aim to connect every imarket insurer and software house system this year and deliver commercial e-trading to the broker channel."

One insurer that has been working to move its brokers onto imarket and help Polaris reach its target of 1,500 brokers by the end of the year is Axa. Mr Nunn said imarket had secured 400 brokers on the back of Axa's decision to make its extranet and e-trading services available via the portal.

Mr McLachlan is also keen to work with software houses on communications to get their broker customers signed up to imarket ahead of integration.

He explained: "As software houses announce their successful integration, it is likely to trigger a round of broker registrations for imarket. We'd like to smooth this activity out over the next few months to avoid any registration back-logs at Polaris."

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