Insurer deploys XML app to speed up policy processing

AXA Canada is testing an XML platform that will help brokers upload policy data in a matter of seconds – rather than days or even weeks.

AXA, which offers property and casualty insurance across Canada, as well as life insurance in Quebec,

needed to keep up with its rivals.

“It’s another channel to bring policy and client data into our computer systems,” said Bruce Moore, senior technical analyst with AXA Canada Tech. “Two of our competitors recently implemented this and we didn’t want to be left behind.” Because the company only sells insurance through the independent broker network, it needed to make it as easy as possible for brokers to do business with them, he added.

Today, if a customer wants to apply for insurance, they go through a broker and their information is sent to AXA in order to generate a new policy. With a hard-copy application, an AXA employee has to key the data into the back-end system before a response is sent back to the broker – a process that can take anywhere from three to seven days.

A few years ago, insurance companies started developing their own policy portals so brokers could directly key policies into their back-end system over the Internet. “But the problem with that is [brokers] have to know how to use the screens that were developed by the company,” said Moore. “This is not their own system.”

Using a middleware application from Colorado Springs, Colo.-based XAware, brokers will be able to automatically transmit a policy from their front-end to AXA’s back-end system, without any knowledge of that system.

“In order for AXA to increase their efficiencies, they need to be able to accept this format and be able to process it,” said Brett Stein, senior director of consulting with XAware. “There really is no implication for the brokers in terms of getting up to speed.”

Brokers have their own system, called a broker management system. XAware converts the data provided by the broker into the format required by AXA’s back-end system. It then pulls additional data from multiple systems to complete the policy. The broker receives an immediate transaction confirmation and is signed into AXA’s existing policy portal to issue the policy.

“You can be at a serious competitive disadvantage if you’re an insurer and you don’t have these technologies up and running due to the diffusion of the sales and distribution channel and the proliferation of independent agents and brokers,” said Randy Kenworthy, vice-president of worldwide sales with XAware.

“We’re helping them out over the next couple of months with some new pieces in terms of different policy types, different coverage types,” said Stein, “and really helping them broaden the breadth of the messages that they will handle coming from the brokers.”

About 95 per cent of the project will be reusable for future undertakings. It could be used to develop an automated quoting system where brokers could obtain real-time quotes, for example, and support policy migration and conversion in the event of a merger or acquisition.

AXA has about 170 brokers across Canada who will potentially be able to use this new business channel. “The whole world is going XML for data transformation and conversion from different sources,” said Moore, “so this is our first attempt at it.”

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Vawn Himmelsbach
Vawn Himmelsbach
Is a Toronto-based journalist and regular contributor to IT World Canada's publications.

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