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Will the entire insurance industry soon move to APIs?


November 29, 2018   by Jason Contant


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Canada’s P&C industry will eventually move to using API (application programming interface) in its entirety, predicts the CEO of a technology company that helps brokers automate their workflows.

“I think you’re literally looking at the monolithic system; there’s going to be one system that is going to do everything,” said Jeff McCann, CEO of Vancouver-based Digital MGA Marketplace Ltd. “It’s going to be everything to everybody and that’s its promise.”

Or there may be a modular system, which takes the best marketing software and the best banking software, for example, and connects them along with other systems. “Let’s connect 10 systems via API. Let’s integrate them together and that’s going to be our new ecosystem that’s going to serve all the same purposes,” McCann said. “The downside is you have to connect all these systems; the upside is you get the best of each of them.”

McCann was speaking at Insurance-Canada.ca’s MGA Technology Symposium in Toronto Tuesday. He was responding to a question from moderator Doug Grant, partner at Insurance-Canada.ca, about what uses of APIs by MGAs would be the most important or productive in the next couple of years.

As it stands, a lot of systems in the insurance technology ecosystem are very closed. “[Tech vendors] are saying, ‘You have to go with us for all your products and you can pay more for additional products, but we don’t really like you to use these other things out there. We like you to stay in our little world.’

API allows for these ecosystems to exist over time, and “we’ll see how proprietary systems in our industry stay siloed or are able to be connected,” McCann said. He described APIs as the “building blocks of code. If you want to know what five data points are in my system, here’s the basic framework, like a French-English dictionary: here’s how to translate from one to another so a programmer doesn’t have to go in and enter into two systems.”

APIs allow many opportunities to link together systems, whether it’s insurance sales, client self-service options or even claims notification, added Märtin Kosk, commercial manager at Insly. Insly is a London, UK-based provider of software for MGAs, insurers and brokers.

“One of the challenges… is that some systems don’t actually allow you to efficiently handle all kinds of business,” Kosk said. “API is just a way to connect all the pieces.”