The European insurance industry is suffering from a huge knowledge gap when it comes to technology, research by Synstar International has found.

But the study, which interviewed 200 IT managers in the UK, Germany and the Benelux countries, showed that the insurance sector was often ahead of its banking and retail counterparts.

Only 32% of IT professionals working in the insurance sector had a place on the board of their company. But this compared favourably to the figures of 31% in the banking industry and 24% in retail.

Respondents in all three industries said they would like to be consulted more at board level. But only 35% of those in the retail sector and 24% in banking said they were listened to by their boards, whereas 43% of IT professionals in insurance were.

“While it is encouraging that IT managers in the insurance industry are becoming more strategic in their roles, and leading over other sectors, the industry is still along way from where it needs to be,” said Synstar International chief executive Steve Vaughan.

“The attitude of boards must change if IT is to be used to its full potential in insurance. Industries that don't buy into the importance of IT will be left behind as global markets become even more competitive.”

However, IT professionals derived less job satisfaction in insurance that in other sectors. Seven per cent did not feel valued in their jobs, compared to 5% and 2% in banking and retail respectively.

Insurance was also one of the most stressful sectors. Forty five per cent of respondents were more stressed than they were a year ago, compared with the same number in banking and just 37% in the retail sector. Synstar International is a business recovery specialist.