Brokers may finally see the industry Internet portal to connect them with insurers get off the ground. After a lengthy process, the Centre for Study of Insurance Operations (CSIO) portal is slated for a January, 2004 launch. The CSIO board has approved a business plan which reflects broker support from across the country, says CSIO chair Bob Fitzgerald. “This decision culminates a five-month strategic review whereby CSIO has initiated significant changes towards its portal business model.” Among these changes was CSIO’s decision to find a third-party vendor to take over future development of the portal. A letter of intent has been signed with IBM, confirms acting CSIO president David Patrick. Speaking at the Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario (IBAO) annual convention today, Patrick notes that “IBM will become our IT department, in effect”. This includes providing operations, application maintenance and development for the portal. Final negotiations remain to make IBM the outsourcer, but Patrick says CSIO has negotiated a good deal with the vendor thus far. Other changes include a new committee structure, including a sub-committee to specifically guide future portal operations and development. Patrick says that members of the CSIO committee working on the portal, including IBAO representative Danny Craig, worked with “commitment and passion” to get the portal to this stage. He adds that insurers have made a commitment to additional funding for the program, as well as to have their ratings in place, so that Ontario auto and habitational policy capabilities will be in place for January. Future development of “phase two”, including single sign-on and new business submission, to be completed for 2005. Province-by-province rollout is expected to take place through 2004.