Commercial portal lured to republic by strong broker community

Imarket is to be extended into the Republic of Ireland, the company behind the commercial e-commerce portal has revealed.

Peter Knowles, strategy and marketing manager at Polaris, told delegates at Insurance Times' Making Money for SMEs conference: "We will be looking at the Republic of Ireland next because the markets are quite similar. There is a strong and vibrant intermediary community [there].

"UK software houses Misys and SSP (called Bitsys) plus Relay from Northern Ireland service the Irish market, and many of the insurers we deal with in the UK are present in the republic."

Imarket is available to brokers in Northern Ireland and those UK insurers that write business there have products.

Brian Pilkington, director of Dublin-based broker Crotty Group, said the move would be welcomed in the republic if Irish insurers and products were signed up to the system.

He added: "For heavy commercial, more complex insurance programmes, you are never really going to have a 100% electronic solution. But for small commercial business this is definitely the way things are going."

In another major development for the online service, commercial insurer Ace European Group is to join Imarket.

Mark Whitehead, Ace European Group's e-commerce manager, said: "It is crucial to our industry as a whole that Imarket continues to grow. We are keen to work with Polaris and member organisations to ensure its success."

Ace, which will initially use Imarket to offer a professional indemnity product to its existing broker network, becomes the tenth insurer to join Imarket.

The latest addition is set to further strengthen Imarket, which has seen the number of transactions made via the portal more than triple in the past 10 months, according to the latest statistics from Polaris.

In April, 25,000 individual transactions, which include quotes, emails and click throughs, were made on the Imarket website.

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