Polaris will choose one of three candidates to develop system

A scaled down version of the ill-fated i2i-link will get the go-ahead next month.

It is understood that industry IT specialist Polaris will choose between three prominent system suppliers to develop an industry-wide system that will allow insurers to communicate prices and policy information to brokers electronically through a web-enabled portal.

According to a source close to the tender, the three contenders for the £5m development phase of the project are IBM, Logica and Microsoft, which is bidding in conjunction with Accenture.

Polaris invited expressions of interest in the project in the first week of January.

The source said the final selection will be made at the end of March and that a product should be up and running in some form by the end of the year.

It is understood that the tender is for a scaled-down version of i2i-link, which folded at the end of last year after more than a year of development.

The source explained that where i2i-link would allow information held in insurers databases to be relayed to brokers direct and through broker software houses, `son of i2i-link' will just be a portal where brokers can log in using a secure password and interrogate insurers databases through the portal.

This could be used to access quotes, claims records and account information. Later phases may include broker software.

Allianz Cornhill, Axa, Groupama, Norwich Union, Royal & SunAlliance and Zurich backed i2i-link initiative which was estimated to cost over £25m to develop. The system was being developed by Misys and was shelved towards the end of 2001