Published in BrokerWorld Magazine November 2020
By Ken Leibow
Have you started reading a book and then come across a word that you do not know the meaning of like, for example, “patulous?” It can be frustrating to look it up and, in some cases, you still may not grasp the full meaning. Software vendors today are marketing their solutions using words like “API,” “No Code,” “Low Code,” and “AI.” You are not exactly sure what they mean especially for life insurance technology. My objective is to help you not only understand the definition of these terms, but also understand how they are being applied to the life insurance point-of-sale tools and underwriting solutions used today by carriers, agencies and agents.
An acronym you often hear these days in the technology world is “API.” This stands for Application Programming Interface, which is a software intermediary that allows two applications to talk to each other. Have you ever used PayPal to pay for something you are purchasing online directly within an eCommerce store like BestBuy.com? After you add your item to the virtual shopping cart and go to check-out, you see a payment option button for PayPal. When the user clicks the “Pay with PayPal” button, the application sends an “order” request to the PayPal API, specifying the amount owed and other important details. Then, a pop-up authenticates the user and confirms their purchase. Finally, if the PayPal process is successful, the API sends confirmation of payment back to the application thereby finalizing the payment of the purchased item. In the life insurance world, there are many examples of an API being utilized. If you are a BGA using an agency management system (AMS) to process new business life cases, you may see functionality that allows you to schedule an exam or order other requirements from a paramed vendor like ExamOne. The agency management system is using an API from the paramed vendor to facilitate the requirement order. It is seamless to the user, while the API is doing the work behind the scenes to execute the requirement order.
“Low Code” and “No Code”
Two other popular terms you see today are “Low Code” and “No Code.” I am going to give you the most common business definition as it is being marketed for insurtech applications. Let’s start with “No Code”: A good example in life insurance technology is a “No Code” life insurance eApp platform. When a carrier adds its products to an eApp platform, there are three critical items that need to be setup:
- Life insurance product rules;
- Questions asked to complete the life insurance application; and,
- Mapping the data to all the State-specific forms.
When eApp was first developed decades ago, setting up the three items above required a software developer to program code, then extensive quality assurance testing had to be done, and finally you had to wait for a major release before the carrier’s products were in production ready for agents to submit life business on the eApp platform. This typically was a long process to set up. As the years went by, less programming (hard-coded) was required because of the configuration tools that were developed to help make changes to the software application. Now fast forward to 2020. A No-Code eApp platform means that setting up the life insurance product rules, the questions, and the forms, is completely self-service and does not even need to be administered by a technical person. So, when you see software advertised as “No Code” it usually means you can set it up and configure it on your own.
Low Code is a visual approach to software development. Low Code abstracts and automates every step of the application lifecycle to enable rapid delivery of a variety of software solutions. It breaks the traditional silos of business and IT to promote continuous collaboration. When a software vendor is enhancing their system with new functionality instead of programming raw code, they use a graphic interface drawing workflow and moving objects around. If you are buying software from a vendor who is advertising Low Code, then it simply means speed and ease in releasing enhancements, fixes, and new functionality. In life Insurtech today you will see Low Code for eApp, eDelivery, and Underwriting Workbenches for carriers just to name a few types of Low-Code platforms that are available.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is sprayed everywhere in vendor solutions and processes. There are an enormous amount of ways that AI is being used in our everyday lives. The obvious example is Alexa from Amazon or Siri from Apple. You can ask Siri to play a specific song, or turn on the lights in your house, or schedule a calendar appointment. But it can do more sophisticated tasks like knowing where you are with your GPS and telling you that you will be late for your appointment because your location is too far away for example. Artificial intelligence is based on the principle that human intelligence can be defined in a way that a machine can easily mimic and execute tasks, from the simplest to those that are even more complex. The goals of artificial intelligence include learning, reasoning, and perception. AI programs require training—meaning the more data you feed it, the more intelligent it becomes. When we see AI being mentioned in the life insurance new business process or in insurtech applications, what do they really mean? A great example is eNoah’s eXtract Plus solution. It uses AI to take a 200 page Attending Physician Statement (APS) and make it a searchable document (extracting vitals, medications and key information) for a life underwriter. eXtract Plus can also render medical records and lab documents with hyperlinks and cover pages. This information can be utilized to create APS summaries or validate that APS summaries are complete and accurate.
Point-of-Sale and Underwriting Solutions
iPipeline offers a transformational Resonant® Point-of-Sale (POS) decision solution that makes the customer experience quick and easy—like buying auto insurance. This enables a carrier and distributor to sell profitable life insurance protection to middle market consumers. Unlike today’s traditional process of quoting teaser rates only to find out the final premium after underwriting, Resonant POS decisioning changes the dynamic so that underwriting is completed at the point of sale. Answers to medical questions are combined with data received from industry leading evidence and predictive model vendors to provide instant decisions with the final premium needed to complete the sale in one sitting. Resonant integrates with iPipeline’s Quote, iGO® e-Application, and DocFast® e-Delivery automated solutions to manage and control the entire underwriting and new business process from simplified issue to fully underwritten complex cases and other lines of business.
Management Research Services, Inc. (MRS) has developed new tools on its no-code sales and new business platform that focus on increasing the speed of issuing insurance policies. MRS has enhanced APS retrieval by integrating with electronic health record (EHR) data partners. Working with the insurance carrier, MRS will integrate an EHR to make an automated decision and issue the insurance policy at the point of sale (similar to how a Rx or MIB integration is used). Additionally, MRS is reimaging the case management and underwriter workbench by providing better tools for the insurance carrier to order requirements. This means that instead of reactively ordering requirements that may add days/weeks to the issuance timeline, the insurance carrier can use MRS’s highly configurable rules engine to write rules that will anticipate ordering requirements needed during the point-of-sale process. This will provide busy underwriters with all the information needed to review and issue the policy, resulting in a much faster and more efficient issuance.
The two solution providers mentioned above are leveraging these technologies (APIs, No Code, Low Code, and/or AI) in their platforms that carriers, agencies and agents use every day. You can see this is much more than connecting systems, it is an integrated process. The value of the entire new business flow, from applying for life insurance to passing into the carrier fulfillment process, is seamless, intelligent, and fast because of these underlying technologies. Each new innovative deployment helps agents provide a better experience for their customers and, as a result, place more business.