More than 150 leading international insurance companies expect to increase their spending on e-business technology by 89% over the next three years, a new survey has revealed.

Pricewaterhousecoopers and the Economist Intelligence Unit conducted a joined survey called E-Insurance: Creating A Competitive Advantage. It showed that insurers have realised that, in order to capitalise on e-business and its advantages of cost savings and improved customer service, they must invest in more technology.

The companies expect e-business to generate 19% in annual savings, compared with 7% at present, and nearly 50% of respondents said existing business processes were one of the biggest barriers to leveraging e-business.

They said they needed a broad, company-wide e-business strategy to avoid large investments in independent business-line initiatives. The study showed that insurers had been taking a piecemeal approach to e-business, rather than implementing a unified strategy.

However, a large number said they would rely on outsourcing their e-business needs, and planned to offer a more advanced range of online customer services. The insurers also anticipated that brokers and agents would continue to dominate distribution and would also embrace internet technologies in the future.