Software houses and insurers agree industry-wide standards

Polaris, the company behind Imarket, has developed a set of industry-wide 'data standards' to make the electronic settlement of accounts.

The company, which has been developing the standards with broker software houses and insurers, says the move will make the accounts settlement process easier for brokers.

A standard template has been produced, which will allow brokers to interpret and reconcile the accounts data in a single way, rather than using a different method for each insurer.

It is for individual insurers to decide whether they will adopt the standards.Ann Reeves, development manager at Polaris, said: "We have been setting up standards for the way the industry should work and have been looking at what information needs to flow from one party to the other."

AXA and Allianz Cornhill have been working with Polaris on the standards.

Allianz Cornhill is looking to pilot an e-settlement system, using the Polaris standards, next year.

AXA currently operates an internet-based system where brokers can reconcile their accounts. It is intending to continue to use its system, which adheres to the Polaris standards.

Angela Cleverly, project manager at AXA, said: "The initiative won't change the information exchange between insurers and brokers. There is a core standard set of information on the statement of accounts, for instance, policy number, gross amount, but sometimes different terminology is used. Insurers ask slightly different things and information is interpreted in slightly different ways.

"Polaris has worked to standardise the look and feel of this. The benefit to brokers is that they receive information that looks the same and employs one process."

Mark Ryder, commercial director at Open GI, said the company supported Polaris' moves to agree messaging standards for accounts reconciliation.

He added: "However, we believe the real benefit for brokers will come from having their back office system automatically match transactions against input downloaded from the insurers' system, rather than simply giving them access to insurer statement information online."