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Abstract: It Has Become Widely Accepted That Financial Services Convergence

1570 words - 6 pages

Abstract: It has become widely accepted that financial services convergence and the popularity of the Web will almost certainly create change for the insurer-agent relationship. It is the acceptance of that notion that led Answer Financial Inc., a licensed insurance broker in 50 states, to build a complete digital front end that links consumers directly to the products of 57 insurance companies over the Web or the telephone. AFI is pioneering what may be a new breed of tech-savvy brokers that can offer carriers electronic bridges to new distribution.Full Text: Broker builds an e-commerce infrastructure for insurers to offer their wares, reports Virginia Kean.It's become widely accepted that financial services convergence and the popularity of the Web will most certainly create change for the insurer-agent relationship.It's the acceptance of that notion that led Answer Financial Inc. (AFI, Canoga Park, CA), a licensed insurance broker in 50 states, to build a complete digital front end that links consumers directly to the products of 57 insurance companies over the Web or the telephone. Founded in 1997 to address the problems consumers face when buying financial services, AFI is pioneering what may be a new breed of tech-savvy brokers that can offer carriers electronic bridges to new distribution.Last October, AFI launched the Insurance Answer Center (IAC), its Internet- and call centerbased insurance shopping service. The IAC's Web site is the only insurance site that is tightly integrated with a toll-free customer call center staffed by licensed insurance representatives who can provide complete pre- and post-sales service.Through the IAC, consumers get unlimited free quotes and can do side-byside comparisons on prices, companies and insurance company ratings. "For the first time ever, consumers can get realtime on-line product information and comparisons across the auto, life and homeowners insurance and annuity marketplaces," says Alan Snyder, AFI's chairman, president and CEO."The IAC is acting as the nexus between the consumer and insurance providers," he says. "We're giving consumers enormous amounts of information, plus the ability to comparatively and competitively shop 24 hours a day, seven days a week over the Web or telephone." AFI markets the IAC to large employers and affinity groups, while soliciting the participation of carriers. "We're the only company that does on-line quoting for annuities and auto in all 50 states for all the different carriers," contends Snyder. "Nobody in annuities can listen to the consumer, take what they want to a database of annuities and give them choices in rank order in real time." And, unlike other insurance Internet sites that require customers to contact the insurance company directly, IAC's full-service team represents the customer's interests through the entire process, from pre-sale needs assessment to purchase of a policy and post-sale service.The IAC's NT-based platform was built with the help...

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