Canadian Underwriter

What’s next in IBAC’s data exchange API pipeline

March 22, 2021   by Greg Meckbach

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At least one insurer plans to offer an application programming interface (API) intended to help brokers quote and bind coverage for small businesses without the aggravation of having to log into different insurer portals or send emails or faxes.

Unica Insurance is working on an API to quote and bind small business for the reusable data services library (RDSL), Tom Reid, data exchange (DX) lead for the Insurance Brokers Association of Canada (IBAC), said in a recent interview.

The main idea of DX, launched in 2018, is to let brokers start and finish tasks (such as claims and billing) in their own BMS instead of having to enter data into both their own system and that of the carrier.

Key to DX is the reusable data services library, which is on the website of the Centre for Study of Insurance Operations. The library contains APIs that transmit data between brokers, carriers, and third-party vendors. The thinking behind the API library is that insurers should compete on the core business of insurance; they should not compete on connectivity with the broker force.

To quote and bind small business coverage, brokers may have to fill out PDF files or even send faxes to carriers, said Reid. “They [brokers] have to do a bunch of work, and that work varies depending on which carrier it is, and it is all outside their own broker management system.”

Seven months ago, only two APIs were put into the reusable data services library, Reid told Canadian Underwriter last week. “Since then, we have had a number of companies have step up to the plate and put in APIs.”

Aviva, Commonwell and Wawanesa have contributed a combined total of more than a dozen, Reid said Mar. 12 in an interview about the Data Exchange Connect Alliance (DXCA), which IBAC announced Mar. 10.

The DXCA, comprised of seven insurers, has prioritized two APIs — claims inquiry and billing inquiry, IBAC said Mar. 10.

A billing inquiry API is meant to reduce or eliminate the extra steps brokers have to go through to tell clients how much they owe for their insurance and when their next payment is due.

“The problem is, there are a lot of [billing questions from clients] and the broker doesn’t have access to that information on their own system,” said Reid.

So when a client calls and says, ‘Hey how much is my next bill?’ or ‘What day is the next payment due?’ some brokers will have to log into the carrier portal. Other brokers have to phone the carrier, wait in a queue, then wait for the person answering the phone at the insurer to look up that client’s billing information and give that information to the broker. Then the broker has to call the customer back and say how much they have to pay and when.

IBAC hopes that with billing inquiry APIs, brokers can cut a 10 to 15-minute task to about 30 seconds.

“You don’t cut down the number of times that customers call (asking about their bills) but you cut down the amount of time that it takes to resolve that question,” said Reid.

The idea behind the seven-member DXCA is to establish a practical process for implementation of DX.

The alliance is comprised right now of: Economical, Wawanesa, SGI, Gore Mutual, The Commonwell, Aviva and RSA, IBAC announced March 10.

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1 Comment » for What’s next in IBAC’s data exchange API pipeline
  1. Jamie K says:

    I am a Unica broker why am I only hearing about this small business work which is very appealing to me. I want to know more

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