The hi-tech investor: Go for a broker

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The Independent Online
Insurance companies have been quick to embrace the internet. Firms such as Legal & General, Norwich Union and Direct Line have useful websites. Insurance brokers have been slower off the mark, even though the net is the ideal medium for them.

One firm that has recently revamped its website is Tolson Messenger, best known for its policies designed for people who work from home. As well as details of the home worker policy, the pages include information on Home Extra, a package that combines business and household contents cover, Home Alone, a conventional home insurance package, and dedicated business cover for smaller offices. The policies are underwritten by CGU.

The site includes an on-line quotation feature and a resources centre - a set of links to other relevant organisations. This even includes companies that cover home workers in continental Europe.

Tolson Messenger,

Well informed

Hemmington Scott is well known in the business world for its company information and data. The publisher's detailed company information service, Refs, has been available to CompuServe subscribers for around a year, and is also available over the web. Refs is a paid-for service, but Hemmington Scott offers a wealth of other company information on its UK Equities Direct website for free.

UK Equities Direct lists the day's top 10 share "movers" on indices including the FT-SE 100, FT-SE 250 and All Share. There's an archive of company financial press releases, with useful information such as chairmen's statements and a basic information listing for stock exchange and AIM member firms.

Hemmington Scott has also negotiated to include a number of well-known companies' annual reports on the website. Other information includes annual results, preliminary results and a brokers' consensus on the firm. This is handy for anyone thinking about buying shares, and there are links to the firms' own websites too. The site has a separate section for investment trusts and new issues.

Hemmington Scott,

Legal aid

The Consumers' Association web service, Which? Online, has launched a new legal area. The site, 401 Legal Questions Solved, has been written by the association's lawyers and answers frequently asked questions about consumer and personal law. It covers topics such as home buying, data protection, personal injury and problem holidays. Visitors can see sample questions free, but Which? Online is a subscription service. Charges to access the full legal area, plus other services including a full archive of Which? magazine, costs pounds 4.75 a month. A subscription to the full Which? Online internet service is pounds 7.75 a month, or pounds 4.75 for Which? subscribers.

Which? Online: