Experian's launch of an on-line service for brokers which bypasses the software houses could cause controversy in the insurance technology market.

Called The Central Site, the initiative comprises a virtual environment where brokers can access insurer-created products (in a Polaris format).

A well-placed source said seven companies were on board as panel insurers. A telebroker is also set to use the technology as early as the New Year.

This week only Cornhill would admit that it was supporting the site.

Currently, an insurer creates a product which has to be integrated into software houses' systems to enable quotations – Axa estimates this costs from £10,000-£30,000 per product.

The Central Site would enable insurers to create products and amend rates without recourse to software houses.

But software houses may feel that an income stream is under threat.

Experian said it estimated "the software house chain" costs £440m per year.

Sue Hall, Experian insurance services division director and general manager, was upbeat about software houses' prospects. "With The Central Site, rates are amended quickly – within 24 hours – so if the market changes, the software houses should be getting more business through the door," she said.

"The software houses may lose some revenue streams but they should not see a drop in profits."

Software houses were less enthusiastic. Mike Dodd, Policy Master business development director, said: "Linking into back offices is critical to Experian. Especially if they want to take revenue streams from the software houses. They will not achieve that without co-operation from the software houses."