By R. Christopher Haines, Executive VP and Chief Operating Officer

Who’s going to lead your integration projects?

If you work in insurance technology and haven’t been touched by integrations, you must be living off-grid somewhere. System integrations are everywhere. If you could find a way to track which cereals people eat for breakfast and how that affects their driving, companies would probably buy that info from you. And they’d integrate it in their real-time rating.

At one time, system integrations in insurance were few and far between. Agency download was probably one of the earliest. Download has changed. Companies now download claims and commissions. But in the beginning, they created output files of basic policy info, converted them to AL3 format, then transmitted them for import into agency management systems. While the vast majority of companies selling insurance through agents now download to them, at one time this was a big deal.

Today, data is king in decision-making. The knowledge data gives decision makers (human or automated) cannot be argued. If data shows people that live in a certain area drive farther to work on average, insurance companies want to know that so they can price their products effectively. If a company believes people with certain levels of education should be priced differently, they want to know that.

In the time between the first integrations and today, many decision-making tools have been introduced. Loss history reports, driving records, credits scores, and vehicle symbols, just to name a few. These started out being in print, but companies soon integrated them into their systems via digital interfaces. Since then, it’s been full speed ahead.

Integrations aren’t limited to rating. Companies integrate everything from lienholder notifications to Medicare reporting. EFT files, credit card interfaces, comparative raters, state limit files — the integrations seem to be never ending. But the expertise to get them done efficiently and cost-effectively may not be.

To integrate all the data sources and systems that will help you write better business, you have two options: (1) You can have your staff members learn how to do each one as it comes along. (2) You can hire a company that’s done it before.

As always, do your homework before you decide. But if you believe time is money — and if you’re staff members have more important things to do with their time — one of the those options is clearly better than the other.

The choice is up to you.