The Project: Overhaul Web site so independent agents can obtain quotes and complete new policy applications online.

The Payoff: The 30,000 agents now process transactions 40% faster than before. That boosts their volume, keeping them loyal.

When it comes to technology, Progressive Corp. (PGR ) lives up to its name. The insurer has applied rush-to-the-barricades fervor to a Web site it created for agents in 1996, enabling them to work faster and process more claims. This year, Progressive updated the site so its 30,000 agents can obtain a quote or process an application for a new policy entirely online. The Web also helps Progressive hammer down costs. Expenses run to about 20% of revenue, compared with an industry average of 23% to 25%. Revenues have increased 20% annually since the company launched the Web site, well ahead of the industry-average 5%. That's proof enough that it pays to stay ahead of the tech curve.

By Roger O. Crockett

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal. LEARN MORE