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Crop Insurer Gives Agents Wireless Application

Leveraging wireless technology to compete in a price-controlled market, Great American Insurance Co.'s (GAIC, $6.5 billion in assets) Crop Insurance division has released AgLite, a wireless application that enables agents to access real-time policy, billing and claims information via the Internet on a variety of digital devices.

Through AgLite, which can be used on personal digital assistants running the Palm (Santa Clara, CA) operating system, a Microsoft (Redmond, WA) Windows CE device or WAP (wireless application protocol) phone, agents are able to log-in to Cincinnati-based GAIC's AgLink proprietary insurance data management system. The AgLink portal sits on the recently released Web site for all GAIC's agricultural divisions.

Beth Puckett, senior vice president for technology, GAIC, says that providing high-tech tools is a top priority for the Crop Insurance division. "We wanted to focus on providing agents with tools that would help them spend more time with clients," says Puckett. "We believe that an agent should not be tied to getting to policy information in the office environment."

AgLite arose out of a larger technology initiative that included the launch of and offering agents EarthScan Networks' (Albuquerque) agricultural satellite imaging at a discount, Puckett reports, adding that GAIC wanted to join its crop, farm and ranch coverage, equine and animal mortality insurance divisions under a common Web site.

Unlike other agricultural insurance providers, crop insurers' premiums are determined by the federal government. "We can't play with price, so to retain and get good business we have to maximize efforts in service, commission and technology," Puckett says.

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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