Polaris, the insurer and broker-owned software house, will announce next week that IBM has won the contract to be the service provider for its new internet portal.

The portal, to be named Polaris E-Market, will allow brokers to exchange essential information, via the internet, with six major insurers: Allianz Cornhill, AXA, Groupama, Norwich Union, Royal & SunAlliance and Zurich Financial Services.

IBM beat off a combined Microsoft-Accenture bid as well as one by Logica.

Polaris managing director Martin McLachlan said broker-access to E-Market would be free and it could run alongside, and complement, existing broker systems.

He said the portal was an industry initiative and participation discussions were ongoing with several insurers, other than the six major investors. He said a number of software houses were investigating the possibility of building the portal into their own systems.