Companies able to think outside the usual 'insurance box' and develop web-based non-insurance business will prosper in the new internet age, predicts stockbroker Goldman Sachs.

In its latest analysis, Goldman Sachs says there is no disputing the potential of the internet as a very powerful distribution medium for insurance products throughout Europe.

But it adds: "However, we remain unconvinced that it will be the European insurers themselves that develop this business on a direct basis."

Rather, it expects a new generation of broker-based businesses to drive forward the distribution of insurance products on the internet.

The stockbroker said that the main winners among insurers will be those offering pricing advantages, strong branding, a multi-distribution strategy and the ability to develop non-core activities on the net.