As insurers move away from their legacy systems and onto more flexible platforms such as Guidewire and Duck Creek, the days appear numbered for portal solutions. Real-time data exchange is now front and center as a priority for the Insurance Broker Association of Canada (IBAC), the national broker association announced Tuesday.

The current work towards real-time data exchange is possible because insurance companies have spent a lot of time and “hundreds of millions” of dollars updating their legacy systems, says Michael Loeters, co-chair of IBAC’s technology committee.

“What [the insurers’ platform updates] have allowed us to do is move away from portals, which insurance companies have spent a lot of time and money building over last number of years,” Loeters said. “The reason why they were limited to portals was because they didn’t have the technology platforms behind those portals that could easily or cost-effectively with a broker management system.

“As those legacy systems move away, and as you replace the back of those portals with modern, flexible platforms, now you have created the enablement for real-time integration with brokers.”

Portals were a necessary bridge to real-time data exchange, Loeters pointed out. He likened the evolution of broker tech to the evolution of GPS technology since the 1990s.

“There are a lot of technologies out there that people talked about for a long time before they became a reality,” Loeters said, referring to broker discussions about real-time data exchange. “For example, if you bought a GPS unit in the early 2000s, it didn’t work well. A lot of times, it took you to the wrong place. It took a lot of time to evolve to the point where it was ready for prime time.”

Now upon us is the era of real-time data exchange, which features heavily in IBAC’s three tech priorities moving forward. IBAC’s three major tech priorities are:

First, IBAC has launched its “IBAC D/X Action Plan” to ensure the national adoption of its Data Exchange (D/X) Model as the method for real-time technology integration between insurance brokers, insurance carriers and partners. This will include plans to develop an assessment of the readiness of insurers and broker management system (BMS) vendors across Canada, and the creation of a D/X Certification process.

Second, IBAC is urging identification of “off-the-shelf” technologies that can be adopted by the industry to enable faster and easier real-time technology integration between brokers and industry partners using the D/X Model. Examples might include Duck Creek’s ‘Agent Connect,’ essentially a translator that allows Canada’s major broker management systems to connect with the Duck Creek platform. Similar, translator-style offerings are available from Brovada and Willis Towers Watson.

“As brokers we need to strongly encourage insurers to make those kinds of investments [in off-the-shelf technologies] to move away from portals top real-time integration, and then we both win,” said Loeters.

Third, IBAC will be conducting a National Broker Technology Survey.

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