Riskclick aims to provide a seamless solution to document management in the insurance sector.

In the rush to add efficiency to working methods using the internet and cut ties with antiquated paper processes, brokers and insurers have invested heavily in equipping every employee with network-linked computers and powerful software. Few companies, however, defined in any detail what they wanted and many were forced to rely on already available solutions to become `e-commerce enabled'.

In an ideal world, the result of embracing technology should have been increased efficiency, reduced costs and clear information available to everyone. The reality is an uninviting, ugly mix of paper and electronic data, which is often mismatched. Most, if not all of the software systems used in the insurance industry have been tailored to meet individual company needs and do not interface with systems used by other firms and clients.

Document management
Even the most fundamental insurance processes such as placement and claims cannot be supported by many of these systems and most insurance companies do not have the technology to systematically manage documents. This is primarily due to the cost of document management systems, which are hard to deploy and generally do not take into account the document management needs and insurance processes. To add to the problem, there is no accepted electronic standard for the exchange of information in the insurance industry, so it continues to rely on the exchange of paper documents and duplication.

Insurance and risk management software company, Riskclick Inc aims to put a stop to this endless confusion with its self-named internet product, which `wraps around' existing desktop systems, and promises to eradicate bifurcated filing systems.

Riskclick can be accessed through the internet or via a web browser, and essentially acts as a sophisticated electronic filing cabinet. Unlike the filing systems offered by existing software packages or traditional paper filing cabinets, which rely on the user placing files in the right folder and naming them correctly - a task that is easier said than done, it seems - Riskclick tracks all document versions automatically and the interactions (communications between the involved parties or document alterations) associated with them.

The filing system is synchronised with the insurance process; for example, `quote requests' and relevant interactions will automatically be filed in the appropriate `negotiations' folder. Order is created through a standardised folder structure, using consistent folder hierarchies and naming conventions decided by each company using the software. As a result, every document and interaction concerning the negotiation of a particular placement will always be filed in the `negotiations' folder and can be easily retrieved and reconstructed at any time. This dispenses with the problem of file and folder naming.

Much of the business that finds its way to the London market originates elsewhere, increasing the need for document duplication. Error rates associated with document duplication, arising from demand for particular files among the working team and in cross-border transactions, have reached critical point in the industry, thanks to the number of different systems employed.

Enhanced collaboration
Riskclick's product promises to ensure that there is no doubt about which version of a particular document has been put in front of the underwriter by having just one version of a document at any one time. Team members around the world can be invited to share folders collaboratively.

The document creator decides who has access to the files and what degree of access they have, and invites them to the folder through a simple process that uses their e-mail address. At this point, Riskclick automatically sends an e-mail with an embedded web page address to the invitees. This gives password access to the account holding the relevant files.

Riskclick's system offers more security than packages that rely on e-mail (Lotus Notes, Microsoft Outlook) said Howard Green, Riskclick president. "The software is more secure because all the information is stored on a server and is not distributed by e-mail. The information is stationary - it can be accessed but it is not distributed."

Data is secured by SSL - the highest security available on the internet, according to Riskclick.

Many of the software packages on the market and those created in-house do not interface with any other systems in the industry. Across the sector this is causing tremendous problems, but it is reinsurers that have been most severely affected. To avoid interface issues, Riskclick tags all information with extensible mark-up language (XML). This enables any computer system to extract structured data from an unstructured document, regardless of the template or format. Users can set up a template in any programme, ensuring that the data entry is more user-friendly.

In-house alternatives
There are ten major projects in Europe at the moment where insurance companies are trying to build similar systems in-house, at an estimated cost of $10m-$40m. Just three of the companies will end up with a functioning system, according to Riskclick, adding that these systems are unlikely to interface with others in the market. The cost of doing business the existing way is becoming prohibitive, and although the benefits of this package are obvious, there will inevitably be resistance to it, but Mr Green said that Riskclick is prepared for this.

He believes that the hardening market and the overwhelming amount of business and paperwork - the result of events on September 11 - would encourage the industry to look to cost-effective and efficient working methods.

Riskclick has already marketed the product in the US and its existing clients include WBN, Zurich, Acordia and Frank Crystal. The marginal cost of the package per month is about $50 per user, but companies with site licences for more than 1,000 employees will get a discount.

Riskclick can be accessed at www.riskclick.com .