Portima was founded in 2000, but its roots go back much further to 1986. It was then that a number of Belgian insurers and brokers decided to establish a secure telecommunications network and the normalization of electronic exchanges to ensure they could communicate safely with one another.
In 2000, Portima was founded with the objective to develop and market a modern software programme 100% conform to the Belgian normalisation. It is structured as a cooperative with ten insurers owning shares in the company. The biggest members are AXA and AG Insurance. Access to the company’s products is also available to non-members.
“We work with 18 insurance companies in Belgium and 4,500 brokerage firms with 12,000 users,” says Managing Director Claude Rapoport. Portima’s flagship product is a software programme called AS/ Web, which enables direct communication between insurers and brokers. Specifically, it facilitates the paperless exchange of contracts and contractual changes.
“We have built up this product over 20 years and are well-known in the market,” says Mr. Rapoport. Paperless contracts have become widely adopted by brokers and enjoy a high level of acceptance. They are available to be viewed as a PDF file at any time. End-customers, however, still prefer to have a paper copy that they can file away in a folder. “We are still in the transition phase, but I expect consumer acceptance of paperless contracts will rise in the future,” says Mr. Rapoport.
As a second string to its bow, Portima has also developed the BRIO4YOU family of administration software products for brokers. These are based on the growing sector of cloud computing whereby data is no longer stored locally but instead can be accessed from a centralized server from any location.
Portima has three server centres which guarantee around-the-clock availability. BRIO4YOU is available in four different versions with varying levels of functionality: BRIOstartup, BRIOclassic, BRIO and BRIOplus. The choice of version depends on the size of the brokerage firm and its budget.
“BRIO4YOU is not the only such product in the Belgian market, but it already has over 7,000 users,” says Mr. Rapoport. “Migrating from one system to another is an involved process that takes time to accomplish.”
The Belgian insurance market is dominated by brokerage firms with over 65% of policies sold by brokers. “Our added value is that we bring efficiency and productivity and allow brokers, free from IT worries, to focus on their business goals so that they remain the channel of excellence for the consumers and the companies.”