AXA Business Risk has entered its next stage of expansion with the insurer currently developing prototypes for automating payment and claims handling.

AXA UK finance director Pat Regan said the insurer is talking to several of its key brokers about how automation can make reconciliation easier and faster. It has developed prototype screens, which it is showing brokers, and will pilot the system with several brokers in the first half of 2004.

The Business Risk initiative gives brokers the ability to transact with AXA using web-based technology. To date, the quotation process has been automated and AXA is currently rolling out electronic renewal through its Commercial Change program.

"Going forward the next phase of our strategy is around doing claims and payments on a similar basis," Regan said. "The essence of it is information, much quicker reconciliation and much easier settlement."

Regan said the response from brokers has been encouraging. "The brokers are really, really keen. They see all this money and time tied up in the process," he said.

AXA UK chief executive Peter Hubbard said the developments were part of a wider strategy to "take each one of the processes and fundamentally re-engineer and systemise them".