Canadian Underwriter

Driving connectivity

February 6, 2020   by Steve Whitelaw, Vice President, Industry Relations, Applied Systems

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Rapid digital transformation is underway in the insurance industry, and automating a broker’s business in two key areas is vital — distribution (e.g. the quoting process) and servicing.

As we all know now, digital technology has created a different kind of insurance consumer, one who expects immediate access to information and real-time customer service. It’s now critical for brokers to leverage technology to automate the exchange of information between brokerages and insurers.

The collaboration of all industry stakeholders — including standards bodies, working groups, software providers, insurers, and brokers — is essential to create connectivity and data exchange solutions that drive efficiency throughout the entire policy lifecycle.

Let’s delve into how further automation in the areas of distribution and servicing will enhance the value proposition for the independent broker channel, thus ensuring that brokers provide the right product and service at the right price and time.


Consumers expect choice and transparency in insurance. The presentation of qualified quotes with supporting advice is central to the sales process and broker value proposition. Comparative rating software enables brokers to provide accurate quotes in real time to meet consumer demand for timely and comprehensive service.

Real-time comparative rating automates quoting by absorbing rating data from multiple insurance companies directly to the broker’s system. Brokers can pull any needed reports and validate and answer insurer questions, all while presenting clients and prospects the best policy options. Using real-time comparative rating, brokers showcase the advice and value of working with an independent broker, providing a complete picture of the insurance covers available.

The shift to data-driven processes, like comparative rating, is dependent upon the adoption of data standards. These are efficiently managed and maintained by the Centre for Study of Insurance Operations (CSIO), and provide a consistent basis for collecting and documenting policy information.

Without using data standards to populate industry forms, brokers and insurers must resort to inefficient and more expensive ways to respond to different proprietary forms.

CSIO is now driving the industry-wide initiative for data standards in commercial lines. It is critical for all stakeholders to adopt industry standards in order to promote further tech innovation.


Automated servicing enables insurers to deliver information directly into a brokerage management system and vice versa. Automation enables operational efficiencies and improved productivity for the brokerage and insurer.

The ease of doing business created by automated servicing is critically important in broker operations. For example, single-sign-on with insurers creates a seamless and secure integrated link between the brokerage management system and an insurer’s extended customer-facing solutions; it also provides direct access to policy and claim files and activities for transactions with insurers.

Through automated servicing based on data standards, brokerages can use digital solutions to meet consumer expectations efficiently. Policyholders, brokers and third parties can send first notice of loss, for example, and receive critical policy and claim-related information from their insurers, including personal and commercial lines eDocs, liability certificates (eSlips), make claim and billing inquiries, and more. Data drives processes, regardless of how the consumer wants to engage. Using CSIO data standards and digital technology, brokers will have more time to advise, service and sell to clients.

The Data Exchange (D/X) Initiative, driven by the Insurance Brokers Association of Canada (IBAC)’s working group, is providing a forum for BMS vendors and insurers to collaborate in delivering this vision. This initiative has allowed for the creation of CSIO standard-compliant broker transactions with insurers across multiple platforms in real time, including first notice of loss, claims inquiry and premium inquiry. During this journey, partial steps will be the reality as capabilities are built. Collaboration, cooperation and an assumption of positive intent are critical in moving forward.

For brokers, it is crucial to consider their insurer connectivity options. They need to take advantage of new business opportunities that will allow them to thrive in today’s marketplace of innovation and changing consumers. Efficient digital connectivity between brokers and carriers is essential to enhance the core value proposition of the independent broker, which is to provide access to product range, insurer choice, and localized personal advice.

Technology continues to transform the insurance landscape. Brokerages that embrace the possibilities of becoming a digital brokerage through connectivity will be best positioned to grow and thrive in this new era.


Steve Whitelaw is vice president of industry relations with Applied Systems and is based in Mississauga, Ont. He has more than 20 years of senior leadership experience in the property and casualty insurance industry.

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