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Insurance Dept. Wins Awards

NY State department is honored for its innovative licensing application.

As it makes strides toward its ultimate goal of enabling any and all offlinecapabilities—whether they involve interaction with the public, regulated entities or other state agencies—via the Web, the New York State Insurance Department (New York) was honored recently for its e-commerce innovation.

The Department's online licensing application technology, in particular—which permits those applying for or renewing an insurance agent or broker license to do so electronically—is this year's recipient of the Best of Web award from the Rockefeller Institute of Government (Albany). The award recognizes the innovative use of technology and overall excellence in Web site design and development. Also, the Department received the Best Practice Award for B2B E-commerce Applications from the Technology Managers Forum (New York), a professional association for high-ranking technology managers. Ron Minafri, CIO, New York State Insurance Department, is especially proud of this award because last year the Forum honored former New York mayor Rudolph Guiliani for his security efforts.

According to Minafri, future plans for the award-winning system—which now features fraud-detection capabilities through collaboration with the state's Department of Motor Vehicles—include the offering of electronic continuing education functionality for licensees. Additionally, Minafri plans to expand the site's ( consumer complaints division capability so that partners, providers, doctors and hospitals, can submit complaints.

Building on Success

One recent expansion of the site's features has been an interactive online version of the Consumer Guide to HMOs. It assists policyholders in choosing HMOs.

The New York insurance regulator's online prowess is not new. The technologically progressive insurance department was the industry's first issuer of guidelines for online advertisements, referrals and solicitations for insurers, agents and brokers marketing products over the Internet. Although Minafri is unsure of the breakdown of the specific types of visitors to the site, in October 2002, he says, there were roughly 373,000 visitors. The average number of visitors per business day is just under 17,000, with 570,000 page hits per month. "The site is pretty robust as it relates to content," which is refreshed daily, says Minafri.

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