Technical Briefing (Technology) – Make Me Api
APIs offer the ability for (re)insurers to create truly bespoke user interactions without the hassle of disrupting existing workflow, says Jason Futers
This article was published in the Autum edition of Insider Quarterly
The insurance industry is in many ways a victim of its own success. It sits upon an infrastructure of systems, technologies, processes and workflows which have stood firm for decades and enabled many carriers to prosper. However, such rigid foundations mean that when change happens, and particularly the speed and scale of change witnessed in recent years, its ability to respond at pace is severely curtailed.
One particularly weak link in the insurance chain is data transfer. The degradation of data which occurs as it is transferred from original source to ultimate capital provider means that in many cases it is almost unusable when it reaches its destination. Passing through multiple teams and systems, often altered to fit specific use cases or technologies, the original integrity is quickly lost.
Attempting to alter ingrained data workflows can be a huge task, particularly when such workflows span multiple organisations. So, at a basic level, how can we at least ensure data consistency at all stages in the process? That is where APIs (application programming interfaces) enter the chain.
APIs provide a transformational tool which essentially opens up the underlying technology of a particular system or systems. Providing that open access means that users of the API can create a bespoke form of interaction with the underlying infrastructure or the data contained within it, one which overcomes the limitations of existing workflows and user interfaces and enables a solution tailored to the needs to the particular company or their client.
Placing APIs into the exposure data context, the user-specific interaction that they facilitate can generate huge benefits across modelling and exposure management workflows.
As mentioned, these workflows and the related user interfaces require significant time and investment to alter. Using APIs, the underlying workings remain unchanged, but what does change is the interaction with the data that flows through it.
What APIs facilitate is the ability for all parties in the chain, whether that be a broker, an underwriter, an actuary, to interact with the data in its original state, rather than a version of that data that has been transformed as it is transferred along the chain. While the existing processes used by the individual parties can remain unchanged, what has changed is that everyone is accessing the same data.
From day one, the Insurdata Platform was built as an API facility providing access to high-resolution building-level exposure data. Our APIs plug directly into the existing workflows and technologies of insurers and reinsurers, with our Microsoft Excel add-in component meaning that data analysis processes for the majority of companies can be maintained, but now they are accessing better quality, consistent exposure data at all stages, rather than data tarnished in the transfer process.
The API model effectively empowers users of a particular technology to make it better. At Insurdata, we are an ideas-driven company, but that does not mean that those ideas only come from within. We have created a platform upon which other organisations can build their own new and exciting ways of interacting with our technology, using our SDKs. That is the real value of the API approach – you can always keep building upon that foundational technology layer to improve the overall solution.
The potential which APIs offer the (re)insurance market is considerable. They provide a means of creatively overcoming the rigidity of many of the systems and workflows upon which the industry currently relies, resulting in significant efficiency enhancements and material increases to return on capital.
Thanks to Gavin Bradshaw, Editor of Insider Quarterly for commissioning this article.