CNET tech sites: Price comparisons | Product reviews | Tech news | Downloads | Site map
Front PageEnterpriseE-BusinessCommunicationsMediaPersonal TechnologyInvestor

News.context: Special Reports | Newsmakers | Perspectives
A quick fix for a car insurance headache
By Brian Livingston
October 27, 2000, 4:00 AM PT

An Internet start-up will soon announce a fast way to get your auto insurance carrier to pay your claims and repair your car.

Ensera's automated process for accident claims and repairs is not yet fully operational, but it plans to announce deals with major players in the $28 billion U.S. auto collision repair business in December.

Tony Aquila, chief executive of the 10-month-old company, said Ensera's clients include GE Financial Assurance, Mercury Insurance and Amica Insurance.

Larry Brown, an Amica systems engineer, confirmed the relationship. Amica is using iON Connection, a working portion of the total system Ensera plans to build.

"All our staff adjusters and appraisers are outfitted with digital cameras and laptop computers," Brown said. "It's cut our turnaround time from a week to a day."

In theory, Ensera's complete process will work best when your car has crashed but your computer has not.

A consumer who has just experienced an auto accident, Ensera asserts, will be able to use any browser to take the following steps:

 Claim. The first stop is a Web page at the consumer's auto insurance company, where an initial claim for reimbursement is typed in.

 Police report. Instead of a consumer having to go to a police station or talk with an officer in person, an official report of the accident will be filed using a Web form.

 Damage appraisal. An insurance claims adjuster, using iON Claims, sends a digital picture of the damage to a central office.

 Scheduling repairs. The insurance company's Web site then shows the consumer a list of approved repair shops and displays the first time slot each shop has available.

Compared with the present system--which basically consists of the consumer schlepping around town or listening to music-on-hold until all these steps are done--a Web-based system could cut days or weeks off the process.

"Historically, it takes approximately eight days to get a completed report back to an insurance company with photos and estimates, utilizing the (snail) mail system," said Tim Davis, owner of a damage-appraisal company serving California, Arizona and Nevada.

But since he started using iON Connection, he says, "The cycle time, including the field inspection, can be as low as two working days."

Ensera must still convince the auto-repair industry of the Web's advantages over proprietary estimating and payment systems, such as ADP's Shoplink.

And it faces competition from other Internet start-ups that had the same idea, with names like and

But armed with $20 million in venture capital--raised in August primarily from CMGI @Ventures and Wand Partners--Ensera is loving its dot-com competition to death.

Go Media, the parent company of, was purchased by Ensera in August for an undisclosed amount.

And Jack Rozint, the founder of, was hired as a senior vice president of Ensera last month.

Despite the savings promised for insurance and repair companies, consumers do not seem to be reaping big reductions in their auto premiums just yet.

But soon, coping with the aftermath of a fender-bender may not leave you feeling like such a wreck.

A Wired Watchdog update
The Wired Watchdog column reported in July that Network Solutions, the largest domain name registrar, was said to be hoarding over 1 million expired domain names that should have been returned to the public pool for registration by others.

Asserting that this is an illegal restraint of trade, Internet entrepreneur Stan Smith has filed a lawsuit against Network Solutions. The company declined to comment on the suit.

Consumer advocate Brian Livingston appears at CNET every Friday. Do you know of a problem affecting consumers? Send info to He'll send you a book of high-tech secrets free if you're the first to submit a tip he prints.

More Perspectives

who's speaking?
Brian Livingston has published 10 books, including "Windows 2000 Secrets" and "Windows Me Secrets." He has been a contributing editor at PC World, Windows Magazine, InfoWorld and other magazines for more than 10 years. Before his work as an author, Livingston was a management consultant advising financial institutions on computer technologies. In 1991, he received the Award for Technical Excellence from the National Microcomputer Managers Association for his efforts to develop standards in the computer industry.


Latest Headlines
display on desktop
GE sparks market rally
Loss grows for Corel
Microsoft puts a price on IM features
Prices fall for CD rewritable drives
Homestore execs agree to plead guilty
Hotwire double-bills customers
Penguin on the prowl
Web leak of Linux lets Hat out of the bag
PayPal goes international
Who's living large at Terra Lycos?
Crooks will still be crooks
Handspring lays off 20 percent
Nvidia chips grease faster PC link
Bell Labs fires researcher
Enron auction hampers DoveBid site
China arrests Web writer for subversion
Vivendi lays out new strategy
Study: Stop trying to lock out pirates
Computer makers gird for holiday battle
Ulead updates photo software
This week's headlines

News Tools
Get news by PDA
Get news by mobile
Listen live to CNET Radio

CNET newsletters Daily Dispatch

News.context (weekly)

Investor Daily Dispatch

Week in Review

All newsletters | FAQ
Manage my newsletters

Send us news tips | Contact Us | Corrections | Privacy Policy

   Featured services: CNET SearchBar | Hosting Providers | IT Resources | Back to School Guide | Tech Jobs   
  CNET Networks: | CNET | GameSpot | mySimon | TechRepublic | ZDNet About CNET  

Copyright ©1995-2002 CNET Networks, Inc.All rights reserved. CNET Jobs