Major companies sign up with Swift network for year-long pilot.

Insurance giants including Swiss Re, Munich Re, Aon, Benfield and Willis, have signed up to a landmark deal that will allow them to exchange information electronically.

As predicted by Insurance Times (News, 24 April), a number of major industry players have signed an agreement with Swift, the communications platform provider for the banking sector.

The Swift network enables more than 8,000 financial institutions in more than 200 countries to exchange 600 million electronic messages a year.

Currently, exchanges between (re)insurance market players are largely paper-based, even though “paper” may be transmitted as an e-mail attachment. Data relating to offering, placing and accounting may be entered into various IT systems many times along the value chain.

In late 2007, a group of global reinsurers and brokers started the Rüschlikon Initiative to build a shared industry solution for electronic data transmission. Swift joined the initiative in January this year.

Gottfried Leibbrandt, head of markets at Swift, said the company was “delighted” to help the industry increase automation and straight-through processing as well as reduce risk.

Peter Arbenz, project leader on behalf of Swiss Re, said: “Swift has a track record of successfully reducing transaction costs for the banking industry.

“Together with Acord’s insurance data standards and the clout of six leading reinsurers and brokers, we have all the ingredients it takes to offer our clients attractive solutions for their reinsurance administration.”

The companies, led by Swiss Re, want to place every aspect of a risk transaction – from initial placement through to settlement – electronically, through Swift within three to four years. This initial pilot will run for 12 months.