Software giant Misys is giving brokers access to the same Internet technology piloted by its web quotation arm Screentrade, it was revealed this week.
The move will enable the brokers to sell insurance on the Internet, and allay fears that Misys would exclude them the technology in a bid to boost its own direct arm.
Screentrade has been a direct rival to brokers since it was first used to sell motor insurance over the internet in June 1997. Customers can log onto Screentrade, fill in six questions, and receive a quotation selected from a panel of insurers.
This has meant that Screentrade has been selling the same product as most of Misys' 2,000 insurance broker-clients, direct to the public. It brought criticism from brokers that Misys was intending to compete with them in the long term. Many doubted that the technological architecture behind Screentrade would ever be made available to brokers.
Ivan Martin, Misys insurance division chief executive, announced the news during the Countrywide Conference 2000 in Birmingham. Countrywide is Misys' marketing arm.
Martin said: "The questions everybody has asked are: what are our intentions with Screentrade? And when can brokers have access to Screentrade?
"We are now able to give you the answers. We will now be taking Screentrade to market via a multi-channel approach. It will be available to brokers via their own, branded, consumer-facing site."
Brokers will be able to use Screentrade in two ways. Either they purchase the architecture outright, or they link with a branded Screentrade web site where Misys still owns the architecture. The cost to brokers will depend on the option they choose.
Martin hit out at suggestions that Misys' long-term plan was to compete against its brokers and not make the technology available.
He said: "We are investing more than any other supplier in the UK broker software market."
The software company also announced a joint deal with Countrywide to give members of the marketing group a low cost method of offering on-line quotes.