In a new series of interviews over the net, Alaric Nightingale asks the questions and Jacquie Boast of NMT provides the answers.
What is NMT, who owns it, when was it set up, and why?
NMT was created in 1996 to provide IT consultancy to the insurance industry. We believed that the time had come to deliver an open solution to facilitate the sale and administration of insurance between the intermediary and the insurer.
NMT launched Premier Plus in February 1999, which was a windows-based product for general lines intermediaries enabling insurers to distribute products through CLMI/Polaris, without needing manual software house intervention. We are a partnership environment owned by brokers, insurers and the NMT management team.
When NMT was originally set up, it was majority-owned by brokers and intermediaries. Is this still the case?
Ockham made a £2.5 million investment in NMT earlier this year. Was it buying into NMT? And if so how much of a share does that represent?
Ockham is the holding company of one of our sponsor insurers, Highway. It has provided an additional funding. This is NOT shareholding.
So what does Ockham get out of it?
[Response from Lord Poole, Ockham group chief executive]
The NMT product allows insurers to provide brokers with timely and accurate quote information that is critical to Highway as a trading motor underwriter. Highway gets the delivery system it needs and there is an opportunity for Ockham to make money by helping NMT make a success of the Premier Plus product.
Ockham needs to understand the changing distribution patterns of motor insurance products and NMT provides quality IT people with an understanding of the insurance market. NMT also gives Ockham access to the provider/customer network at a nodal point in the chain providing strategic connections. Once Premier Plus has been satisfactorily relaunched, a longer-term business plan will be developed that will probably use these skills to deliver Highway's motor insurance products over the internet and digital TV.
So what has Ockham's investment enabled NMT to do?
The investment has enabled NMT to concentrate its development resources into enhancing functionality of Premier Plus and work with our clients to ensure we deliver the products and services they require. We went live in February 1999 and installed 125 sites within five months. We have also acquired larger premises in Stevenage.
Our analysis and development team has grown from 23 to 38 and our customer services team has grown from nine to 15 .
What is wrong with the broker software that is already on the market?
In some cases, it was created over ten years ago, was not designed for Polaris and is not open.
What volume is Premier Plus generating?
Of the 125 sites installed 98 are LIVE and 27 are parallel running until version 1.5 is released in April 2000. I do not have that data on our clients though the combined GWP of the 98 live sites is more than £150m, primarily personal lines.
When will your internet/commercial solutions be ready for brokers? Also, how would you see NMT positioned if you did decide to develop a digital television solution: provider of technology to brokers or possibly as virtual broker in your own right?
Our commercial product will be available in April. The internet will be available from early next year, although our full product will be available by late 2000/early 2001. We will never position ourselves as a virtual broker.