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Building Advanced Digital Solutions with Standardized APIs

Centre for Study of Insurance Operations (CSIO)

What if brokers could serve their clients much faster, easier and more efficiently? It is entirely possible. CSIO and its Innovation and Emerging Technology (INNOTECH) Advisory Committee are working to advance digital experiences for brokers and their clients by moving information faster — with policy data available in real-time. By the end of this blog, CSIO will have outlined how it will support the broker channel with digital solutions to streamline how brokers do business.

Inception of a solution

CSIO’s INNOTECH Committee is engaged in the development of an industry API standard to address the pain points that brokers face in supporting clients through the policy lifecycle. The INNOTECH Committee, launched in 2019 to drive digital innovation and improve customer experiences within the broker channel, identifies major operational issues and then develops solutions accordingly.

Currently, a solution is underway that will standardize APIs to reduce the friction of data exchange among brokers, insurers and vendors. If insurer and vendor members structure their data in an agreed upon format, then faster, more efficient transaction times will improve the digital customer experience.

APIs are everywhere … what are they?

An “Application Programming Interface”, API, is a digital window into another digital system. An API connects different devices and allows transactions to occur between them. Think of it as a software go-between that enables two different applications to talk to one another. It takes a request, tells the system what needs to be done, then returns a response to you – instantaneously (in real time) and securely.

We encounter APIs in our everyday lives. They access data from third parties. A good example would be a Google search of the weather. The forecast is obtained instantly through an API, yet all of the complexity of collecting the data is hidden behind the scenes.

Current broker process

Today, information isn’t readily available in a broker’s BMS to support new prospects and to manage existing clients. Brokers must:

  • deal with different processes across insurers;
  • use third-party systems for quotes;
  • complete the sales process in insurer portals;
  • access client policy information via log in to an insurer’s portal or, call the insurer, wait in the queue, wait for the insurer to search for information, then call the client back.

This takes time and results in a less than stellar client experience. To support clients through the policy lifecycle, the process is typically slow and cumbersome – and it takes a certain amount of time for brokers to respond. A gap exists in real-time policy data exchange between insurers’ and brokers’ systems to provide a more fluid information delivery and an optimal user experience.

CSIO’s INNOTECH Committee will close that gap.

CSIO’s INNOTECH Committee drives solutions

To fast-forward this API initiative, the INNOTECH Committee formed three API Working Groups comprised of industry subject matter experts to ensure that all aspects of the digital solution are considered and tested. The three Working Groups are:

  1. API Business Requirements: insurers, vendors and brokers collaborate to capture brokers’ operational requirements to foster a solution, and translate them into business requirements to drive digital advancement in the broker channel. This leads to improved customer experiences (the group examines the current broker workflow process to identify the data requirements for a real-time process).
  2. API Technical Standards: create an industry API standard in JSON format for personal and commercial lines of business. Publish APIs using CSIO Data Standards to support members’ requested use cases in JSON and XML format (the group focuses on how to build and package the business requirements).
  3. API Security: standardize authentication/authorization and/or define requirements for a security solution (how to provide access and exchange information) to facilitate data exchange among insurers, brokers and vendors using standardized APIs.

Build it; they will come – the API solution

CSIO and the INNOTECH Committee understand the issues that brokers face to access real-time policy information in their BMS. That’s why through the collaboration of industry experts on the INNOTECH API Working Groups, they will leverage digital advancements in day-to-day transactions. This means that brokers will be able to obtain information in real-time to handle customer inquiries and transactions. That’s not all – the Working Groups are developing a framework so that all APIs will be built the same way.

With the digital solutions and API standardization in place, brokers will benefit by starting and ending their transactions in their BMS. They will also have accurate, up-to-date (real-time) data with which to support their customers. CSIO’s INNOTECH Committee is advancing digital experiences, for brokers and their customers, by moving information faster and having policy data available in real-time.

“As an INNOTECH Advisory Committee member, it’s exciting to see the progress we’ve made addressing industry pain points,” said Dennis Dalmas, Senior Vice President, Solutions Delivery at Northbridge Financial. “Standardizing APIs will facilitate data exchange and enable brokers to improve the overall digital experience for customers while also improving their own brokerage efficiencies.”

Next steps

With a solution on the horizon, watch for more information about API standardization in the coming weeks and months. CSIO plans to launch a course in its Digital Broker Program and issue more communications on the roll out of this exciting new digital solution.

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About Centre for Study of Insurance Operations (CSIO)

CSIO is Canada’s industry technology association of property and casualty insurers, service providers and over 38,000 brokers. CSIO is committed to improving the consumer’s ease of doing business within the broker channel by overseeing the development, implementation and maintenance of technology standards and solutions such as eDocs, My Proof of Insurance eDelivery, and eSignatures. In addition, CSIO operates CSIOnet, a secure, industry-owned platform for the efficient exchange of policy information for the broker channel. The CSIO XML Standard is licensed to CSIO by ACORD (Association for Cooperative Operations Research and Development). CSIO maintains offices in Toronto and Montreal. For more information, visit www.csio.com.

SOURCE: Centre for Study of Insurance Operations (CSIO)

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