SCOR, the insurers' insurer, is on display on the internet! Open your browser, type and you will find a mine of information about the largest French reinsurer and its 30 overseas operations. “So what?” you might say. It is nothing terribly original for an international group, quoted on the Paris and New York stock exchanges, with clients in over 150 countries to have an institutional web site. Yes, but even if all or nearly all reinsurers now have a site, they do not all offer the same service.

In reinsurance as in other sectors, the internet is a fantastic means of delivering a service to our clients in real time. Getting to know our clients better and sharing knowledge with them are themes which has been dear to us for years, illustrated notably by the implementation, within the framework of our Omega information system, of our unique client database. Everyone in the group worldwide can access this database to see the whole history of our relationship with each client.

Thanks to the internet, we are going further and proposing “i-solutions”. Two are now operational: Astre to evaluate and rate the risks of small and medium sized businesses and i-fac, where insurers can submit their facultative proposals. Other solutions, notably in the life sector, are in the course of development.

The internet is also an electronic communications medium, and everyone appreciates how much it has improved the flow of information among business partners. However, for the internet to be used to transact business, it needs to be secure. With this concern in mind, SCOR has decided to join WISe Trusted Trading, the secure message service created by Worldwide InSurance electronic commerce (WISe), an organisation created by the largest insurers, reinsurers and brokers worldwide for the development of electronic commerce.

The data exchanges are governed by an inter-change agreement, which is accepted by each member of WISe and gains all the usual advantages of secure communication. In parallel, WISe offers a second service, the WISe data exchange, which proposes the transmission of administrative documents in an electronic form. SCOR has developed the facility to integrate these documents into its internal information system without the need for re-entry.

Within SCOR, access to the internet is open to all, on the understanding that the rules of good practice recently set out are respected. To search the internet to find out what one needs to know should become a reflex for all our staff, and each of them needs to spend time getting to know the search engines and other facilities available. Internally, the same idea has been applied to the establishment of an intranet, accessible throughout the group, which provides a wealth of information regarding the group's activities, business developments, structure, general news, available documents and research etc.

Finally, the internet offers very economic communication facilities, which we do not fail to exploit at various levels. The commercial teams can access their messages via their own portable PCs or through any internet terminal in the world and so remain in permanent contact with their offices. The smaller outlets of the group are linked into the SCOR environment through a virtual private network (VPN) on the internet. Until this service was established, we really had no economically viable way of linking them to the group.

The internet is also extremely important in terms of financial communication. With a very broad international shareholder base, 30 000 shareholders in over 55 countries, it is the perfect tool to provide access to all group financial information, press releases and publications in a timely fashion. SCOR was one of the very first companies within the sector to establish a fully fledged site for this purpose.

We have strategically chosen to take maximum advantage of this marvellous, multiple faceted communication medium. We are investigating new forms of exploitation (new e-services, voice and video on the internet) with the aim that all our business partners, major commercial clients, insurers and brokers alike find more services and reasons to extend their collaboration with our group.

  • Régis Delayat is chief information officer, SCOR.