Future entrepreneurs and business owners will never have known life without e-mail or internet access. As such, catering to the insurance needs of a new generation of on-line business owners is key to winning future market share, according to Andrew Panzera, business process manager at Alexander Forbes Risk Services.

To cater to this new generation the company has developed an on-line insurance portal which Panzera says is the first business insurance support portal to be launched in South Africa and is on the cutting edge of this technology application worldwide.
Similar to internet banking the site allows smaller business owners to access their insurance portfolio on-line performing basic functions like adding a new vehicle to their motor portfolio, changing a postal address or submitting a claim. Business owners will also be able to access useful formulas to calculate their loss-of-profit risk through an online risk management tool.
Moreover, clients are able to fill in three or four variables, like turnover, number of employees and sum insured, to get a quote or even purchase commercial insurance via the web.
Called redcarpet.co.za, the service promises to re-define the role of insurance providers.
“Small business owners can now deal efficiently with policy administration details online allowing our customer-facing employees to evolve away from transaction management, becoming true relationship managers and risk advisors,” says Panzera.
Sales people will all be equipped with an electronic Personal Digital Assistant (PDA), transmitting prospective clients’ details to the site. In this way clients’ insurance requirements will be instantly processed and circulated amongst a range of providers, each returning a competitive quote. If satisfied, the client is able to accept and activate the policy on the sales person’s PDA.
For starters directors and officers liability, top-up liability, pleasure craft policies, and legal assistance policies can all be negotiated, quoted and purchased via a sales person’s PDA or over the net. "This will expand to other products like executive vehicle, personal accident and travel cover later in the year," Panzera explains.
Should a client, however, require specialist advice about starting a business in Africa for instance, they will be prompted to call or log an inquiry.
Importantly, “a client’s requirements are only circulated to competing insurers for three days, after which these insurers lose the option to bid. This will drive efficiency improvements within the insurance industry," says Panzera.
www.redcarpet.co.za is also designed to be accessible throughout South Africa, regardless of bandwidth and connectivity challenges.