The World Wide Web has become such an integral part of business life that many see work without it as living in the stone age. Those same people have realised a quantum leap in the number of business (and personal) communications they are a party to compared to their pre-email days. Research work that once took a visit to the library can today be accessed almost subconsciously from the desk of the inquiring mind.

And in the evolving world of e-commerce, a web site can be the difference between how successfully any institution gets its message across. Information that was once jealously guarded, and even recently available only for a fee, is now hurled from any number of easily accessible web sites.

It was from this understanding that the Bermuda insurance site (www.bermuda-insurance.org) was established to create a virtual window to the innovative Bermuda market. Today, for the first time, those seeking specific types of coverages from Bermuda-based companies can point and click their way to information on which companies are writing which lines of business.

Bermuda's increasing interest to insurance and reinsurance buyers created the necessity for a catalogue or inventory of risk transfer solutions. The market's existing web site was revamped with special emphasis placed on establishing a user-friendly resource.

Thus, the Bermuda Market Solutions section, found under Risk Solutions, details the various business lines and provides useful information on how the business is written by different Bermuda firms. The kind of information that is provided includes attachment points and limits. A growing number of websites established by the Bermuda firms are also listed.

Risk Solutions also contains a comprehensive section on establishing any Bermuda insurance company, which is derived from the publication, Captive Insurance in Bermuda: How and Why to Form a Captive. This is the kind of generic information that many people find helpful when considering establishing a Bermuda captive or incorporating any Bermuda insurer or reinsurer.

There are links on the site to leading Bermuda law firms Appleby, Spurling & Kempe (www.ask.bm) and Conyers, Dill & Pearman (www.cdp.bm) where a wealth of additional legal information regarding the incorporation of insurance entities can be found. ASK recently created an opportunity for on-line incorporation of insurance and other Bermuda companies (www.justaskinc.bm.)

There are also news sections for those who need to get up-to-speed quickly on developments in the market. The site carries news releases from Bermuda insurers and reinsurers and presentations and articles prepared by leading executives in the Bermuda market. It includes an archive section dating back to 1996, which provides a chronological map to the mammoth growth in the market in recent years.

The Bermuda Insurance Update, the official journal of the Bermuda insurance industry, is distributed to 15,000 executives in the insurance and business world. But many prefer to simply read the quarterly publication on-line. Back issues are also archived at the site and the current issue is available via a down load that takes just a few seconds.

The re-launched web site also includes a section, Ask The Market, so that buyers can get the answers to specific questions they have not yet resolved. It will lead to a bank of questions and answers being established that can be stored on the site in a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section.

Technological advances

The colourful site was redeveloped to take advantage of the technological advances made in the past few years and to reflect the continuing innovation in the Bermuda market. For example, a key consideration for the developers of the site was to create a platform which was easily and completely “updatable” by an in-house administrator.

The new system, which is based on a Lotus Notes platform, allows the administrator or any content provider to have direct access to virtually all the site material at any time of the day, and from anywhere in the world.

The beauty of the system is that the content provider can be as creative as she or he wants to be. For example, there is the ability to add images and “down-loadable” files to the site content, without needing to know html, the language in which web sites are written.

Another key issue was the ability to know who, and how many, were visiting the site. While this is the kind of information that can normally be generated by a host server, an added function of the site design is that information on site visits and page hits is continually generated, and accessible to the administrator. In the first full fortnight there were nearly 5,000 page hits on the site, and substantial positive feedback regarding the aesthetics and navigability of the site.

  • David Fox is director of information services, Bermuda Institute of Insurance.