Rarragini & Rosso's new long-awaited web-based broker system is here. Ian Ritchie asks if the hype is right

In October 2000, Rarrigini & Rosso (R&R) whetted the appetite of the broking world with its plans for a web-based broking system that would allow brokers of any size to have a state-of-the-art e-trading system with insurers (and office support systems) without the hefty investment usually associated with IT.

The system is now launched officially, following a number of pilots and lots of rumours about false starts. And a good system it is too. As well as offering quotations, policy documents online and other useful insurer interconnectivity, it has a number of office-based systems - like human resources and report generation - that should help compliance with intermediary regulation.

This will all sound familiar to those who know the Acturis system, which went live with Bland Bankart and Smart & Cook earlier this month. But the R&R system has a key advantage. It has a good risk management package - perhaps not a great surprise from a company that has specialised in motor fleets.

The 24 7 broking system delivers all the normal range of day-to-day functionality, but has the added benefits of a risk management suite, an easy to manage approach to cross-selling, and a payroll and HR suite to enable the broker to manage personnel function.

The risk management suite, HR function and customer relationship management functions enable the broker to demonstrate a professional approach to commercial clients, generate extra revenue, and cut costs by taking greater control of HR and payroll.

Starter pack
The system is web-based. So all that the broker needs is a PC that can run Windows and a standard leased line.

The application service provider format means that data is stored remotely from the broker's office, and the full system is available to all brokers, with no issues concerning which version is run by whom. The broker can dial in from anywhere in the UK, 24 hours a day, allowing brokers to work from home. They can also access the system via a laptop while on a client visit.

The Microsoft Office suite (Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook) is integrated into the system, as is a document management and scanning system. This means 24 7 offers the chance to develop the paperless office concept.

One of the major issues in the broker delivery channel at present is the reduction of handling costs of commercial business. It seems 24 7 can help. The broker can choose and pre-set the combination of classes of business (at present 32 on the system) and insurers with whom he wishes to trade.

Via a series of drop-down menus, the system asks all the relevant underwriting questions required in order to submit a quote. The information is then submitted by whatever medium best suits the receiving insurer: e-mail; fax; and, shortly, XML.

Information libraries
The risk management programme can be utilised as part of the new business procedure, although it has equal value for existing clients.

If the risk management assessment is completed at quotation, the details can be submitted to the insurer, as an attachment to the risk presentation.

The risk management programme is designed to provide extensive libraries of information of use to both client and broker, as well as links to helpful sites, such as the Health & Safety Executive. The risk management report can be completed in the client's office using a laptop to connect to 24 7.

System guidance on disaster recovery can provide a basis for the assessment of turnover patterns for calculation of business interruption sums insured and indemnity periods.

The system also features a very useful guideline to rebuilding costs of various types of commercial and industrial property.

Credit referencing is available, which in today's difficult financial climate, could be very useful, particularly where a broker knows little about the background of a new prospect.

Having entered the relevant client information at the inquiry stage, the system populates all relevant screens, and makes it simple to produce client registers. Any subsequent changes automatically trigger an update of the registers. This makes it easy for the broker to supply up to the minute information to the client and creates a complete audit trail, should this ever be required in the event of a professional indemnity (PI) claim.

Within each client record, there is an area to store meeting notes, both with clients, and insurers.

The Polaris quotation engine is used in personal lines. If products are not available through Polaris, 24 7 will write the products in Polaris, at no charge to the insurer.

There is a link to the DVLA so that on introducing a vehicle registration number in the quotation screen, the remainder of the vehicle information appears, to be verified by the broker.

The personal lines client relationship management (CRM) screen, the front screen for each client, differs from the commercial one, and shows information relevant to personal lines.

Personal profiles
Also within the personal lines module, there is scope for gathering lifestyle information, such as holiday frequency, sports and other interests, enabling client profiles to be identified for future marketing or cross-selling.

In both the commercial and personal modules, 24 7 can show the status of other insurances of potential interest to the client. These are colour-coded on screen so that, at a glance, the broker can see products held already, those held by other brokers or insurers, those where there is potential and those where the client has indicated that he is not interested.

To further help cross-selling, R&R will work with the broker to evolve bespoke scripts for cross-selling campaigns within the company.

The claims module has the useful option of being able to differentiate between a claim, and a notification of an incident that may become a claim. Claim screens are tailored to the policy type, and have the facility to store details of other interested parties, such as adjusters or solicitors. Claims statistics can be analysed, particularly useful in the case of fleet business, or any policy which produces a high volume of claims or notifications.

As you would expect, the system can be interrogated to provide whatever performance, turnover, renewal retention, claims or other information that is desired.

Taking advantage of the Microsoft integration, data can be exported into Excel spreadsheet format, for further manipulation and analysis, as dictated by the broker, to meet the specific needs of his own company.

Nominal ledger and payroll facilities are present, enabling the broker to manage the business, as well as perform the broking tasks. The payroll facility can link to the broking system, for instance to trigger bonus payments automatically.

Management can control levels of access to information, thus keeping MI secure.
R&R uses the HR module to look after its own internal staff requirements, numbering currently some 130 people. It is kept up to date by R&R's own HR management team, and any changes to legislation or HR practice are incorporated and notified to user brokers by email.

Staff have access to the system to view their own personnel records, and their online staff handbook and company rules.

From a management point of view, online guidance from manpower planning, through the recruitment process, the life cycle of the employee, down to exit interview, are all available. To complement this, supporting documentation, such as application forms, appointment letters, contracts, and compliant disciplinary letters are all available.

Who will buy?
R&R chief executive Julie Rodilosso sees the target market for the product as being the broker whose main business is commercial or corporate.

There is an upfront cost to cover the cost of installation of the system. After that, users pay a monthly cost per user, plus the cost of the lease line. As the data is held on remote servers, the need to back up disappears, as does the possibility of a software crash in the broker's office.

There are a number of attractions for the commercial broker. However, the risk management module could offer a strong competitive edge. But document management could start to provide some real efficiencies.

Certainly, any broker considering an upgrade or change of system should add 24 7 to his list of ones to view.