In the second part of our series on broker and insurance systems, Amanda Swinburn and Ross Hall of Garol assess three more technology products

Finding the right technology to suit individual broker or insurance businesses is a challenge. With so much choice on the market it is hard for many companies to know where to begin.

Technology consultant Ross Hall of Garol says the average broker runs an insurance business first and has little time, effort and energy to manage software that may not work as advertised.

He adds: "It is important that brokers who go to roadshows or come under pressure from their existing vendor to upgrade resist the deals on offer.

"They must focus on how technology can help them do their job better."

Hall recommends that brokers spend plenty of time shopping around for the right product. Here are more of the solutions on offer.

Launched: 1999

What was promised? Internet-based IT systems for the insurance industry. Includes a desktop back-office solution, claims processing and quotations from a panel of major insurers.

Cost: Free to brokers. Insurers pay a commission fee.

Access to insurance products: 34 motor and 12 household products are currently live or in the advanced stages of testing.

Expert comment: "This seems to do the basics very well and I also like the fact that brokers can create products and define their own policies with it. It is very quick and easy to use, which is a real plus point.

"It is good from a brokers' point of view because it is free, apart from the software charges. The insurer is charged a transaction fee instead.

"This is worth putting on the list of companies to see."

Company comment: "The base product is free, unlike many competitors that charge licence fees. Our customers can use any modern PC, which offers flexibility and choice. The system also allows brokers to receive product and price updates in real time."

OASys (Misys)
Launched: The front-office system was launched three years ago and the back office system was launched in December 2001.

What was promised? OASys is the standard Misys Financial Services insurance system for brokers in general, personal and commercial lines.

Windows-based front and back office systems. The back office system includes a task manager, business reports and the option to add on policies. It can be expanded from one user to many. The front office system is integrated with the back office and comprises quick address, multiple styles of quotation and fast processing.

Cost: Price on application

Access to insurance products: 34 insurers' products are available.

Expert comment: "Not much is known about the back office system because it has just been launched.

"As with any new system, brokers should make sure it actually does what is promised."

Company comment: "OASys is an open-architecture system, which complements our continued investment in the BROOMS solution.

"New customers can implement a completely OASys-based solution, while existing BROOMS users who want a Windows-based system can manage a staged migration, taking advantage of BROOMS and OASys integration.

"We are delighted by the level of interest in OASys in the market."

Action Data Systems Insurance Manager

What was promised? A system that caters for the needs of an underwriting agency, or wholesale insurance brokerage. It issues cover notes, handles quotation requests from brokers or agents and includes an accounting system.

Brokers are also given marketing options and feedback on which sources are generating the most business.

Cost: £25,000, and more for individually branded sites

Access to insurance products: The broker can input and update data into the system themselves, so all insurers can be included.

Expert comment:"This is a fairly new system with just a few users.

"I would say don't sign up yet until there are more live users, as any defects are only uncovered in a live environment."

Company comment: A spokesman said: "This product is the complete package. Once it is set up and working on your website, it covers every stage of the insurance process."