With work continuing to enable real-time data exchange between brokers and insurers, the next logical step would be to bring consumers into the fold.
Pat Durepos, leader at software vendor Keal Technology, said that he sees consumer access to data in real-time as “the next big thing.” He used the example of a broker, carrier and consumer all connecting in real-time.
“So the role of the broker will be, ‘OK, where do I need to intervene in this?’” Durepos told Canadian Underwriter in an interview on Tuesday. “If somebody is simply asking their broker in real-time for a change of address, perhaps the broker will say, ‘I don’t need to intervene’ and that will go right through to the insurer.
“In a more complicated transaction, the broker should be able, within his BMS (broker management system), to say, ‘I am going to stop this transaction’ and pass it on to a broker that is going to in one way, shape or form intervene for the benefit of the consumer and then complete the transaction,” Durepos said.
He added that “our role at Keal is developing systems that will facilitate the communication between a consumer and the insurer with the support, but also with the control, of the broker.”
When asked when brokers, insurers and consumers may all be able to connect in real-time, Durepos said it’s important to look at the different types of transactions that a broker may assist with: a simple inquiry, policy change, request for a rating or pricing, billing inquiries and claims and cancellations. “Brokers are already doing some of those in real-time,” Durepos pointed out.
He said that every single transaction is not going to happen all at once, most likely there will be an examination of the transaction and line of business. “To me, what’s important is that we make continuous progress in adding lines of business and functionality,” he said. “As long as we continually evolve, the blue sky approach is not going to happen overnight, it’s going to happen piecemeal. If you wanted to throw all the money in the world and all the energy, you could get this within months.”
Interestingly, Durepos said, insurers are now approaching vendors like Keal for broker-insurer connectivity solutions in comparison to a few years ago, when vendors were trying to sell the products to carriers.
Durepos added that if brokers were able to increase their connectivity capabilities, they would be better prepared to compete with direct writers “hands down.”
Jeff Purdy, senior vice president of international operations with software provider Applied Systems, told Canadian Underwriter in early April that with their new “translation services” software, brokers could provide data distribution as effectively as direct distribution and enable the broker channel to better compete.
Purdy used the example of a digital broker’s sold policy on a mobile device. “If that transaction is finished in real-time, then the consumer can literally have policy documentation on their mobile device in real-time,” he said. “That is a really compelling value proposition that aligns with the direct channel,” Purdy said, with the “benefit of being a broker and providing advice and providing choice.”