Magazine article Risk Management

There's No Business like E-Business

Magazine article Risk Management

There's No Business like E-Business

Article excerpt

This is the first Internet column you have ever read. It is the best, the most innovative, and will corner the market on Internet columns, forever changing the way you think about the World Wide Web. Only, not really. This is more likely the ninety-nine millionth (give or take a million) time you've read the word e-business, and you're probably sick of it.

Brave the blizzard in your e-mail inbox or shovel through the snowdrift of Internet brochures on your desk--from e-policies to the latest, greatest site's launch propaganda--and you will notice a tiring repetition in the language. Exclusive availability. First in the business. Best service in the virtual universe. Elite online education. Like movie reviews with superlatives so overwhelming they overshadow the reviewer, today's e-commerce onslaught hides behind the supposed novelty of the product itself, with policies and offerings that promise the world and deliver ... what?

"You have to be able to give people real value in terms of making life easier," says Jeff Altholtz of SafetyDirector.com, a recently launched online resource for safety compliance, commerce and community issues. "Otherwise, you're not going to last." There must be information management, access, proactive thinking and content linked to products. "That's what people want from online offerings," says Altholtz. "That's what you have to deliver."

Whether or not every provider can deliver these goods, one thing is certain: nobody wants to be left off the bandwagon. In the white paper, Internet Insurance Transactions: Business and Legal Ramifications, Carol Zacharias, general counsel for Chicago-based CNA Pro Insurance, writes that in 1996 there were only ninety-four producer sites, twenty-five property and casualty insurer sites and twenty-nine life insurer sites. It is estimated that these numbers have quadrupled in the last year alone. The amount of information has increased as well: Web sites offering product information have shot up 20 percent over the same period. Sales volumes have begun to rise, with one estimate suggesting that there will be $2.5 billion in homeowners and automobile insurance sales by 2006. At the same time, there is increased sophistication with the addition of enhanced audio, video, telephone, motion picture, video conferencing and graphics capabilities.

In a study conducted by Zurich-based New Swiss Re, analysts predict that sales in personal lines insurance on the Internet will account for 5 percent to 10 percent of the U.S. market by 2005, enabling personal lines insurers to cut costs by up to 12 percent. …

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