INTEGRATIONS ARE NOT THAT COMPLICATED
Published on November 15, 2017
Your policy issuance system can support a modern billing solution for less time and money than you think!
Replacing a policy issuance system is expensive – both in terms of time and money. Implementation for many of the well-known software suites can involve seven figure expense outlays and a year or more of time…and in some cases that is the right investment. However, certainly not in all cases.
Billing is one of the easiest areas to create, or significantly enhance, without having to replace or upgrade your rating, policy issuance or claims systems. The key is successful integration. I'm mystified by how complex many people believe integrations to be. Maybe there’s a conspiracy by software developers and software companies! More likely, it’s just an absence of information.
Let’s debunk the notion that integration is complex or difficult
API – Application Programming Interface. Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last 20 years, you have seen the acronym before. It may sound scary or complex—but it isn’t. It’s actually quite simple. When we speak about integrations, an API is a way for one software application to communicate with another—it's like a translator that also aligns data points. Once an API is in place, systems communicate with ease.
Billing doesn’t require much information—basic customer and policy information. Every policy issuance system has this information and, with a small amount of programming, it can be shared with another software system. Think of how many internet sites allow the customer to make a payment with PayPal. How did that happen? An API. How does an inventory tracking system or a payroll system communicate with a GL system? An API. In short, APIs are everywhere…they are built every day…and in many cases, they aren’t complicated at all. In still other cases, certain APIs already exist, which can reduce the effort to integrate even further.
So think of this, you have a developer (in-house or from your software vendor) write some code to send basic customer and policy information to a billing system or a billing service provider. This should take 1 person less than 1 week of coding and testing (a bit more if you want downstream communication such as cancellations, endorsements, etc…but those can also be built later). From that point, the billing system or service can begin its work, by invoicing your customers according to the terms you've establish (X% down, Y number of installments). The billing system or service can send payment reminders to your policyholders via text message or email, mobile and desktop portals for your policyholders and agents to (a) make payments; (b) view invoices and other documents; (c) update an address; (d) switch from paper notices to electronic notices, etc…
You just took a company that with no billing capability or perhaps limited capability, with little or no internet presence, and you brought it to life with highly flexible billing capabilities and you opened it up to every computer and every cell phone on Earth…and you did it faster than you thought possible, for less than 10% of the cost of a new software suite.
If you have conducted thorough research and have determined that you need to replace your entire software application – and the entire suite is the best value for your time and money – then you should go that route. However, if what you really need is a way to efficiently bill your insurance premiums and a modern client-facing portal so that your policyholders and agents can check status, make payments and manage their billing features, you may be able to save yourself a year and a million dollars…or more.
How's that for value?