October 8, 2019 by Jason Contant
How long will it be before brokers’ and insurers’ systems are able to connect efficiently?
“This is still a two- to three-year journey for the industry to have really-slick, direct connectivity,” predicts Jason Storah, CEO of Aviva Canada.
Storah spoke with Canadian Underwriter Friday about a variety of topics, including broker-insurer connectivity. He was asked what Aviva Canada was doing to support data exchange between brokers and carriers, the D/X Initiative being one among many examples.
“Really the conversation we’re having internally is what changes are we making to our IT platform, and what are our options around the linking into broker platforms and connectivity there?” Storah said. “So, everybody is talking about APIs,” he said, referring to application programming interfaces. “We’re obviously on the API expansion and API build-out.”
Aviva is “at all of the tables working with CSIO [Centre for Study of Insurance Operations], engaged with the broker associations, and looking at the optionality that we have in terms of the system changes we’re making,” Storah said. He pointed out that as an industry, a number of insurers (Aviva included) are still doing legacy system conversions.
Broker-insurer connectivity reached a major milestone last month when the Insurance Brokers Association of Canada (IBAC)’s data exchange working group announced it had completed its first notice of loss (FNOL) transaction in real-time. The D/X Initiative working group developed the first FNOL transaction as a reusable data service and placed it in a library hosted at the Centre for Study of Insurance Operations.
Building on the working of the Toronto Insurance Council and in conjunction with IBAC brokers, the achievement “represents an important milestone in the efforts to advance broker-insurer connectivity by enabling the sharing of information between disparate systems,” IBAC said in a press release Sept. 10.
Storah noted the initiative and related projects have been going on for a couple of years. “That was really our starting point. We know two things need to happen here,” he said. “One, brokers need to have a clear line of sight on what the options are and, two, we need to start to make some bets and be quite candid about where we’re building out our infrastructure and where we’re building APIs, which lines of business, which regions, etc.”
Brokers were asked in Canadian Underwriter’s 2019 National Broker Survey about what insurers could do to provide the broker’s small business customers with additional value. One broker suggested that carriers “digitally integrate with brokers so we can provide more online real-time services to these customers at a lower cost.”
Another said brokers “can’t possibly spend the time utilizing each company’s digital portal” and even suggested carriers move away from company-specific portals.
A third said brokers are caught in a loop. They have been forced to use portals, and it is very difficult to get in touch with an underwriter to discuss the account. When they do reach an underwriter, the underwriter tells them to submit a proposal electronically.