Internet life assurance firm offers low-cost alternative

By JANE O'SULLIVAN

The persistent belief that life assurance is sold, not bought, is one of the main reasons that the sector has been slow to take to the Internet outside the US.

However, a Wicklow-based firm has just launched an online insurance brokerage service, the first of its kind in the State and one of the first instances of an Irish firm in the financial services sector using the Internet to offer a low-cost product alternative.

LA Brokers promises to find the most competitive premium for your chosen policy and to provide savings of 70 per cent on the first year's premium because it operates on a reduced level of commission.

Typically, some 90 per cent of the first year's premium goes in brokers' commission. But because of the lower costs involved in using the Internet to attract business, LA Brokers says it can operate on a significantly reduced commission of just 20 per cent.

Its service is targeted at those seeking term assurance, be it life cover, mortgage protection or serious illness cover. The company is a broker for some of the top insurance names in the state, including Eagle Star, New Ireland, Norwich Union and Standard Life.

The service is particularly suitable for those who already know their life assurance needs or who have already sought advice but the site does contain basic information on term assurance and mortgage protection.

Those who want a quote simply place their order and will then be sent a "noobligation" policy quotation. If the consumer is happy with the quote, he simply has to fill in the application form and return it with a cheque to a special industry-established account.

The cheque cannot be cashed until the policy is accepted by the insurance company and the cover is in place. The insurance company issues policy documents and details of policy cover in the normal way and, like all other insurance policy transactions, the standard 15-day cooling off period applies. The LA Brokers website can be accessed at www.labrokers.ie.