Hidden costs of ISDN and extra phone lines are among the key points for brokers to consider when choosing an online broking system, says a report from the British Insurance Brokers' Association (Biba).

The tips are included in Biba's new software directory, which evaluates the capabilities and functionalities of most of the broking systems currently on the market.

The directory was developed in conjunction with IT consultants Garol and was compiled by sending questionnaires to all software houses offering brokers systems. Only Cover.net and Insureright failed to respond.

The capabilities of each system are compared in a number of sections: an overview of the system, client management information, functionality, data transfer, accounting functionality, level of client support provider by the vendor, and technology.

Ross Hall of Garol said the market seemed fairly matched, although there were some minor quirks, such as Covermaker not supporting accounts.

He added: “The directory shows brokers need to be very careful about the needs of their business and the functionality of systems. The devil is undoubtably in the detail.”

Copies of the directory are now available from Biba (020 7397 0222), priced at £125 for a CD-Rom and £150 for a hard copy.