Syntellect has unveiled a telephone speech recognition system for the retail insurance market.

It will allow insurers to pick up every call, yet use staff to focus on revenue g ...

Clever calls
Syntellect has unveiled a telephone speech recognition system for the retail insurance market.

It will allow insurers to pick up every call, yet use staff to focus on revenue generating queries only.

The system automatically produces quotes by getting the caller to speak their details, such as postcode, car registration and address, to a computer. The software understands the answers and produces the quote.

EU ultimatum
The UK government has been given two months to comply with European working time rules.

A court victory by Amicus, the biggest union in the insurance sector, came after it made an official complaint alleging the government was failing to implement the Working Time Directive.

The EU upheld complaints that UK employers do not enforce staff rights to breaks and holidays; that workers can volunteer for unmeasured and unrecorded extra work; and that night shift overtime hours do not count on the tally of normal working hours.

UK workers work an average of 43.6 hours a week compared to the European average of 40.3, according to figures from Eurostat.

Atrium loss
Atrium, the Lloyd's insurer, reported a loss before tax of £15.2m, compared to £2.6m in 2000.

The result equates to a loss of 32.6p a share.

Atrium's investment activities produced a loss of £4m, compared to £949,000 in 2000.

Atrium's 1999 underwriting result was a loss of 5.6% of capacity.

Its capacity for 2002 totals £120m.

Its Syndicates 570 and 609 together made a gross loss of £10m from the 11 September traged, based on current estimates.

Chief executive Nick Marsh said: "The impact of the events of 11 September on the Lloyd's insurance market and world stock markets have had inevitable consequences for the financial performance of the group."