Keith Morris, now a director of BDML Connect, sat on the Polaris board in his time at GAN. His views are very positive, although admittedly progress has been slower than desired, and the concept has yet to make the final breakthrough. Polaris has struggled to persuade all parties of its value. The main difficulty as he sees it is that brokers do not perceive the advantages. “They in turn have to convince their software providers, who already have many other priorities. Polaris needs more penetration and the AA adoption was a watershed because it forced a number of issues and made insurers on the AA panel comply. NMT is entirely Polaris-orientated and CSC is following,” he says.

“The good thing is that it is capable of wider adoption into the worlds of digital TV and the internet. The ideal now is for more insurers and remaining software providers to embed the RTE into their systems.”

New Millennium Technologies (NMT) was specifically set up to use Polaris, and recently delivered 32 Polaris-based private car schemes to brokers. Jacquie Boast, sales and marketing director at NMT, confirms its system now integrates Polaris RTE with over 150 sites to date, making the software house currently the second largest Polaris distribution outlet after the AA.

The proof that Polaris is finally succeeding is that new schemes, fully developed by the insurers themselves, are being added electronically with no manual intervention. “All products are fully guaranteed and include point of sale documentation,” she adds.

Full cycle EDI messaging using Polaris Productwriter is currently being tested by NMT and when complete will allow insurers using the Polaris standards to attach such messaging to their schemes, removing the development costs and delay that currently exists in a non-Polaris EDI environment.

Martin McLachlan, managing director of Polaris, notes that NMT has been able to take advantage of new tools and techniques when building its system, with no legacy of old technology. “Polaris technology allows insurers more cost-effective and rapid development of new products, thus removing costs from the channel and helping to ensure the continuing viability of the intermediary,” he explains.