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Automation Service for Insurers Launched on SWIFT

Following a 12-month pilot, the new service is planned to be available to any carrier who wants to participate in what SWIFT calls a shared vision of faster, more standardized settlement of insurance and reinsurance transactions.

The first transactions on a new SWIFT (Brussels) insurance service have now been exchanged between R¼schlikon Initiative members Aon Benfield, Willis and SwissRe, according to a press release from SWIFT, the member-owned cooperative that provides the communications platform, products and services to connect over 8,500 banking organizations, securities institutions and corporate customers in over 200 countries. This new central platform for electronic exchange of reinsurance accounting and settlement transactions will be in pilot mode for 12 months, to allow the pilot firms to fully implement the necessary changes and to validate the service. The service will then be available to any firm who wants to participate in the shared vision of faster, more standardized settlement of insurance and reinsurance transactions, according to SWIFT.

The pilot firms are leading reinsurance firms Aon Benfield, Munich Re, Scor, Swiss Re and Willis. All participants have also committed to abide by a rulebook, which sets what the SWIFT source characterizes as new and challenging targets for timeliness and accuracy of accounting and settlement processes across the community. The service is based on the messaging standards and market practice guides produced by ACORD (Pearl River, N.Y.), the international insurance standards body.

SWIFT's Insurance service carries ACORD-standard accounting and settlement messages for Reinsurance and Large Corporate (RLC) transactions, and will validate them against ACORD's eBOT and eCOT market practice guides. This provides a short-term boost to the standardization of ACORD messages, and a longer-term platform for adding new functions such as matching, exception reporting, and even netting, as the community grows, SWIFT asserts. The expected benefits accrue initially from the reduced effort, time and cost of error-prone rekeying of data, and will grow as the central functionality offers new automation possibilities, according to SWIFT.

"This is an important milestone for the whole insurance community," says Peter Arbenz, chairman of the R¼schlikon industry panel and project lead on behalf of Swiss Re. "We have come a long way in 15 months to bring this service online, and we are now ready to start harvesting its real, compelling benefits. I would encourage any reinsurer, broker or insurance carrier to join us as soon as possible, so that we can extend automation across the whole industry."

Gottfried Leibbrandt, head of markets at SWIFT, comments: "SWIFT and the Industry Panel have worked hard to bring this service to life. We have collaborated effectively with ACORD and the pilot firms, and brought a whole new industry solution to market on the SWIFT platform in just over one year. ACORD, SWIFT and the pilot firms can be justly proud of that."

Anthony O'Donnell has covered technology in the insurance industry since 2000, when he joined the editorial staff of Insurance & Technology. As an editor and reporter for I&T and the InformationWeek Financial Services of TechWeb he has written on all areas of information ... View Full Bio

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