IBM Donates Code to Katrina Effort

Company moves to help communication and processing by donating programming code and intellectual property to the insurance industry's computing standards body.

Recent natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and the Asian tsunami have forced insurance companies to respond quickly to clients needs. To aid in this effort, IBM has moved to help communication and processing by donating programming code and intellectual property to the Association for Cooperative Operations Research and Development, the insurance industrys computing standards body.

IBM last week contributed more than 100 business-process models, model definitions and other industry content to ACORD, the company said.

IBM and its insurance company customers said insurance companies that adhere to the ACORD standards are better able to accelerate

services such as the claims process. The key is Web-enabled technology made possible by industry standards such as ACORD that can process information on demand, said Cindy Maike, IBM Software Groups global market segment manager for insurance, in Lenexa, Kan. The content donated by IBM will further strengthen the ACORD standards and encourage adoption and transformation of the industry, IBM officials said.

John Kellington, senior vice president and chief technology officer at The Ohio Casualty Insurance Co., in Fairfield, said the insurance industry has "so many different aspects of insurance that the opportunity for doing things differently is big."

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In addition, "the insurance industry has many participants," Kellington said, from independent agents to insurance reinsurers to independent claims adjusters to major insurance providers. "Having standards allows for the automation of the interactions between all of these participants," he said.

Indeed, IBMs donation of the code and content—which ACORD can standardize on—will help foster a standard environment in the insurance industry that will help facilitate insurers response time following disasters such as Katrina, Kellington said.

"ACORD already had many standards in place, but there was never an attempt to look at insurance in total," he said. "There was always more of a silo approach to the situation."

"What this does for ACORD is ... that were able to take these assets from IBM and integrate them into our standards portfolio and enrich that portfolio," said Denise Garth, vice president of membership and development at ACORD, in Pearl River, N.Y.

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