Internet & E-Commerce –

THE PATH in Insurance!

Pat Borowski, DVP, patbo@pianet.org

PIA National

 

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Technology 2000 Means

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Y2K

The best competitive event for independent agents!

BECAUSE

It is unavoidable and demands new technology investment of agency!

AND

Agencies’ purchases to respond to Y2K include the foundations for broad Internet Protocols usage.

Recommending a Strategy

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Vision Statement

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Agency Earnings

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Concerning Other Products: L&H and Financial Services

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PIA Year 2000 Agent Surveys, June 1998

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Leading Carrier Concerns: 1998 PIA-CCEO Survey

ACORD and XML: The Guide & The Path

Agency-Company Organization for Research and Development

One Blue Hill Plaza, 15th Floor
P. O. Box 1529
Pearl River, NY 10965-8829
Phone: (914) 620-1700 or (800) 444-3341
Fax: (914) 620-0808

 

January 2000 issue – Professional Insurance Agent Magazine

Industry Watch Column – Carl Gaspar (NBD – CO) chairman PIA National Business Technology Committee and ACORD Board member.

Many carriers early on understood the benefits that Internet offered insurance processing. Internet protocols are more flexible and better able to interface with many more dissimilar systems and all at substantially reduced costs. Attention and resource commitment to ready for Y2K greatly tempered the full Internet launch efforts of these carriers.

As Y2K projects concluded agents began seeing more of their carriers moving towards some form of Internet transactional interface with them. Whether for the upload side of a new policy transaction or up-to-the-minute claims status, Internet/web-browser applications are here. Rather than have every company, once again, invent their own approaches with carrier-unique screens, ACORD has stepped in.

The new standard is called XML. Unlike previous standards efforts that took a three-year or more time frames to come to market, there are a number of important differences to this latest effort. XML is proceeding much faster, addressing more transaction types than we now have in any current insurance technology standard. It will be, at the same time, global and insurance-financial services in nature.

The ACORD XML standards have not started from scratch. Instead they are using the existing standard developed by IBM, MS and Intuit called IFX. This standard is already being used in the financial community. ACORD has formalized a working relationship with IFXForum, manger of these standards. This cooperative venture will extend the experience and expertise that the financial community already has with Internet standards and provide insurance–specific influence into this process.

The global nature of the financial community and that in many other countries banks are already engaged in insurance had already moved IFX/XML standards into the worldwide insurance community. This is most apparent in initial London market efforts in cargo insurance and reinsurance efforts.

As carriers began implementing their own Internet protocols, they did so for many more lines and types of transactions than pre-existing standards had addressed. Therefore, from its inception, the XML Internet effort (new standard) will be more comprehensive and include far more backroom functions (such as the full scope of claims activities), and lines of business, (such as life and specialty lines), than does the current widely used industry AL3 (old) standard.

The benefit is a more comprehensive automation of the full scope of functions necessary to transact insurance services across a larger number of line types. However, to meet the pace of the Internet evolution and manage costs, ACORD has made the decision that the extended line and transactional capabilities developed in XML will not be engineered in the older AL3 standard.

The challenge for some vendors will be to blend standards or convert all their software to XML standards or offer systems that only execute AL3 insurance transactions with carriers’ XML companion interfaces completing the picture.

Therefore it is very important that agents be very aware of these changes and plays an active part in shaping them.

Pete Wilson, co-chair of the ACORD Agents Advisory Committee and member of PIA BTC, staff and myself are part of the process. We will ask for and need the involvement of PIA affiliates and members so that ACORD crafts a uniform XML standard that can be applied in any number of options and accepted by the insurance partners with which PIA members do business.

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