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Envisaging Business Integration in the Insurance Sector

Envisaging Business Integration in the Insurance Sector
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Author(s): Silvina Santana (Universidade de Aveiro, Portugal) and Vítor Amorim (I2S Informática-Sistemas e Serviços, Portugal)
Copyright: 2009
Pages: 8
Source title: Encyclopedia of Information Science and Technology, Second Edition
Source Author(s)/Editor(s): Mehdi Khosrow-Pour, D.B.A. (Information Resources Management Association, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-026-4.ch223

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Abstract

Data, information and knowledge are the heart of the insurance business. Each policy is composed of a set of data that can vary substantially. Risk management is a complex process that implies the availability of rich and accurate information and knowledge. In our fast moving world, connectivity and articulation between insurance industry players is therefore mandatory. Information and communication systems and technology (ICST) can provide this connectivity, allowing insurance partners to become closer and able to reach better negotiation, reducing response time and costs and probably creating new business opportunities (Strazewski, 2001). Insurance intermediaries (brokers and agents) are important players in this scenario. They act as consultants operating independently from insurance companies, being specialists in providing services to their clients, gathering the best solutions thanks to their vast knowledge of insurance companies’ products. Consequently, they achieve the best insurance contracts at the least cost (APROSE, 2005a, 2005b). Being a great value-adding activity, insurance mediation is also very complex. To operate in an effective and efficient way, intermediaries need to establish a good connection with all entities in the industry and electronic business can help insurance intermediaries’ business model in both business- to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) dimensions. In B2B, intermediaries establish relations with insurance companies, agents, banks and official entities. In B2C, intermediaries establish relations with their clients, giving them all the necessary assistance in a customized and fast way, since the first contact and during the policy’s whole life cycle, offering the best solutions according to their needs. However, in spite of all the apparent and potential benefits, intermediaries are not grasping all the advantages that electronic business can provide. This definitely relates to a very important issue, the integration level between the different players’ information systems. Analysing the situation from the intermediary perspective, this article exposes the problems faced by intermediaries and insurance companies all over the world when trying to integrate their business electronically and how these can be overcome so that partners can fully benefit from the opportunities here identified. The methodology used includes a deep case study involving a Portuguese intermediary having a significant level of integration with an insurance company. Results are compared with situations reported in other countries, leading to the conclusion that most of the problems and barriers here identified are being experienced worldwide. Conclusions bring significant implications for information science and technology (IS&T) and add important contribution and knowledge to research in this area.

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