Canadian Underwriter

The next steps to making IBAC Data Exchange a reality

August 3, 2018   by Greg Meckbach

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Brokers who spend too much time typing information into two different computer systems are getting help from the Insurance Brokers Association of Canada, and IBAC is looking for help on some new working groups.

IBAC aims to have some working groups – among the next steps of the IBAC-led Data Exchange (D/X) – up and running this fall.

“You are going to hear from us,” Michael Loeters, co-chair of IBAC’s technology committee, told insurance professionals Wednesday who attended the launch of D/X. Loeters suggested the Toronto Insurance Council – which hosted Wednesday’s launch – will be asking insurance industry players to consider participating in the working groups. Toronto Insurance Council (TIC) is a brokers’ association known until recently as the Toronto Insurance Conference.

Anyone interested in participating in a working group should contact either Loeters or Kim Opheim, IBAC’s technology lead.

Michael Loeters, co-chair of the Insurance Brokers Association of Canada technology committee

By day, Loeters works in Toronto as senior vice president of strategic clients and risk management at Prolink Insurance Inc.

One aim of D/X is to reduce the collective time and effort needed to build application programming interfaces or web services that would let a brokerage’s software exchange information with a carrier’s software. For example, an API could be used to let brokers input policy changes and first notices of loss (FNOLs) without having to type customer information one time into the broker management system and then a second time into a carrier’s portal.

Somebody has to build an API, but vendors and carriers should not have to “reinvent the wheel,” Loeters noted Wednesday.

So D/X will include what IBAC calls a “repository,” or a “reusable data services library.” That way, one company can build a data service and other companies could use it.

The working groups that IBAC is setting up could focus on data services for personal lines, commercial, specialty, claims, finance and administrative, suggested Loeters.

At the moment, discussions are taking place “about what sort of business transactions should be in this repository,” said Ahmer Gulzar, senior manager of technology strategy and architecture at the Centre for Study of Insurance Operations (CSIO), during the launch.

“We haven’t determined at this point where is the best place to house that,” Gulzar said of the repository. “Those discussions are happening right now.”

Meanwhile, to provide a “proof of concept,” former TIC president Brenda Rose is spearheading work on an API that lets brokers submit first notice of loss to carriers.

Rose, who by day is vice president of FCA Insurance Brokers, walked F/X launch attendees through the FNOL application Wednesday.

Right now, if an insured calls their broker reporting a loss, the broker has “a number of different ways,” such as phone, fax or email, to report that to the insurer, Rose noted Wednesday. Brokers want to send those first notices of loss to carriers “without repeating data entry” and get confirmation back, for their client, that the carrier actually received the first notice of loss, Rose added.

Over the first two weeks of August, TIC “will be finishing up the last testing” of the FNOL application, Rose said.

“This is a perfect candidate for the first element into that repository,” she added.