When it comes to insurance technology, integration is the name of the game, says Andre Symes, from Genasys Technologies UK
Over the last 20 years since we launched Genasys Technologies, the pace of technological change has been so fast that the must-haves of one generation are quickly consigned to Room 101 by the next.
As my neighbour on the train up to Manchester casually open up their Galaxy Fold, connected to their cloud storage database and downloaded a film, I remembered the days (not so long ago) when I lugged around a heavy laptop with a built in DVD drive, thinking I was the bees knees.
The pace of change that we’ve experienced in our day to day lives is mirrored in how technology has influenced how the insurance industry goes about its daily business. Our customers expect 24/7 access and response and to meet their demands. Our partners expect smooth integration of systems. As a result, insurance businesses are increasingly reliant on a multitude of specialist insurance technologies to provide specialist services. These all need to work in unison and must all speak the same language.
Say an insurer wants to sell its products through a partner network of retailers, whereby the insurer embeds its product in the retail distribution channel at the point of sale.
Software at the point of sale (POS) can include a simple interface to enact the transaction but is programmed to only capture minimal client information, seeing that the product being brought – information – is already known to the insurer and doesn’t need to be recaptured.
Nor does the insurer, requiring control of the insurance information, want the POS app to include rates, rules and policy schedules, rather allow the software to talk with an application programming interface (API) which concludes the deal and all the rest without the POS software catching whiff of the details privy only to the insurer.
It may take some convincing from the insurer for the POS developer to build their product into the POS development life cycle, which is why the API needs to be as easy to integrate as possible, therein also reducing time to market, while fully applying the insurance rules in the background.
Sound complicated? The software may be, but the process should never be, which is the whole point of insurance technology integration. The solution is made up of disparate parts supplied by various third-party service providers, but it should function as a cohesive whole.
We recently completed an integration for an insurance technology company that wanted to add value to the claims process by providing intelligent vehicle accident analysis using data from tracking devices, as the tracking system knows the details of the incident – time, speed, impact, and so forth – much better than the claims system.
By providing an integration that passes on the tracking device ID and the date and time of the incident to the tracking company, they can deliver a full analysis of the claim, including an analysis of probable liability and injury.
So, why is integration necessary? In a single platform, the business rules are applied by the application, essentially meaning the application can trust and understand the data without the need to communicate with other platforms that may be speaking a different language. The issue, however, is that the system would become enormous if all the new insurance business requirements were coded into this single platform.
Integration can take place through an API layer or interface which allows one service provider to expose its capabilities to multiple different systems using a common language or protocol. If a mature API works as it should, the rules of the publishing application are maintained to such an extent that the same results would have been achieved if it were managed within a single application.
As more services are outsourced, so the need for APIs will grow – however the opportunity is too big for any one supplier to provide a complete solution.
There are companies who specialize in providing data enrichment services that can’t be provided by a single platform supplier. Integration into these services provide a much richer experience for any insurer than one platform as a service (PAS) supplier can provide on their own. These service must publish their API in such a way that it can be consumed easily by other platforms while PAS providers must give third parties access to their platform to extend the business to their partners and ultimately their clients. It is a system of symbiosis.
Clients can interact with this system using mobile apps, bespoke user journeys and portals, among others – the nature of this interaction all depends on a common understanding of the business rules as stipulated by the insurer.
Another aspect is vital to any product provider is the ability to sell their products more easily. Front end distribution has often been a difficult integration for insurers or MGAs. However with technology, this barrier can be broken down relatively easily. For example, we’ve recently invested in Widget technology, which allows our clients to imbed products into distribution websites in minutes providing a much needed solution for many to the distribution challenge.
Insurance technology is all about adding value to the insurance business through intelligent use of technology, which can be achieved through automation, artificial intelligence, data enrichment, mobile always-on, or a combination of the above. While there is a lot of hype around all these technologies, the real benefit will be in improved business practices for insurers and ultimately benefit their clients.