Focus develops general insurance software for brokers by Amanda Swinburn

Aimed at the commercial insurance market, it allows insurers to obtain information from a number of sources in a form that is standard among other brokers and insurers. It is claimed to reduce error rates in form-filling.

It will be integrated into broker administration systems and lets brokers place business electronically.

The general insurance system will be based on the company's life insurance technology, with a front-end point of sales system and links to brokers.

A Focus spokeswoman said: "The insurance industry is paper-based and is riddled with problems in terms of wasting time and money.

"This product will help to automate the sales process and take out cost and paper."

An independent technology consultant said the new product will help to fill the gap in the market for commercial risks software.

Focus specialises in mortgage and life insurance, operating under the name of Goal Technology. Its customers include Royal & SunAlliance, Norwich Union and Zurich Financial Services.

Independent financial adviser Towry Law said its error rates fell from 40% to 9%, and it placed £45m of business in six months of e-trading using Focus for its life products.

Focus is currently testing its general insurance system in consultation with insurers. The development is being funded by £5m raised when the company floated in April 2000.

A technology analyst said: "Focus has a proven track record, but general insurance has very different requirements to the life sector."