USF&G Insurance has launched a Web site which is designed to target its insurance programs to a very specific industry: information technology (IT). And, by addressing directly the unusual risks associated with IT, the firm hopes to cut out a big share of IT insurance dollars. It's a new idea that all financial services companies should consider, says Frank Ganis USF&G Insurance's avp of multimedia commerce. Just as IT has unique insurance needs, it also has special financial services needs. "It would make a lot of sense for banks that write loans for emerging technology companies and are even establishing links with them to gain a slice of the IT vertical market," he says. "It's so sizable a market and the Internet is such a natural channel to reach it."

Ganis says that the company's IT Web site is separated into several areas, including a site explaining the available insurance products, a legal panel site showing the risks of technology litigation and a discussion site for communication within the IT community. The Web site helps IT companies understand unanticipated risks related to new technologies like the Internet. A section on "Scenarios" uses software to show examples of situations typically faced by IT firms, such as asset liability, people and global risks. The Web site breaks down into even more specific IT subsets, including telecommunications, electronics and specialty instruments. Ganis says that future USF&G Web sites could target other highly specific industriesoeven the financial services industry. Besides emulating USF&G's IT Web site, Ganis says, banks could make use of it too. "Technology is complex, and insurance is complex, and the two together are even more complex. Banks are big buyers of information technology, but it's not always clear whether their software vendors are adequately insured," he says. "Banks that buy IT software to drive their teller terminals, for example, could use our site to find out if their software vendors are adequately insured. Instead of absorbing the costs when an error shuts down a system, the bank might have recourse if the vendor is properly insured." -peterson

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