Real-Time Revolution: How APIs are Transforming Benefit Experiences

James Ocampo, executive vice president of Wellfleet Workplace. Courtesy picture

APIs – short for application programming interfaces – are essential and familiar parts of our increasingly digital lives. From booking travel through Expedia to shopping on Amazon, APIs seamlessly connect various IT systems to share information and facilitate real-time transactions between platforms and vendors.

Although widely used by technology and financial companies, forward-thinking insurance companies are now embracing APIs as a way to improve customer experience through digital transformation, says James Ocampo, executive vice president of Wellfleet Workplace.

“Most insurance companies have 50 years of pent-up technology based on legacy systems and architecture,” he explains. “It creates a lot of technical debt from multiple systems of record – such as separate billing, policy administration and claims systems – that each do their own processing, but don’t talk to each other.”

In contrast, technology rooted in APIs enables IT systems to share information in near real-time and redefine the way carriers, brokers, employers, and customers interact. Ocampo highlights three distinct benefits:

  • Speed: APIs give systems the ability to exchange data in real time instead of relying on traditional batch or manual processing. In turn, carriers can speed up processes such as quotes, implementation, and claims, while increasing accuracy and reducing costs.
  • Collaboration and reach: The same APIs that allow a trader’s systems to interact with each other can also be applied to collaborations with new and existing business partners, such as traders, brokers, or listing companies. Through the exchange of clean data, they also offer carriers new opportunities to easily respond to the consumer’s desire for choice and the ability to compare options between brands.
  • Personalized experiences: APIs make benefits more accessible for brokers, clients and clients. They facilitate the exchange of accurate data across multiple channels to enable everyone in the value chain, including customer service, to improve the employee experience with real-time updates. For example, an employee can access their unique coverage details through an online portal, start a claim, then complete it over the phone with a customer service representative, who picks up where the employee left off. Additionally, brokers and clients can receive real-time registration, claims, and billing data for each employee.

While traditional insurance systems focused more on internal business transactions, today’s benefits – especially voluntary products – require a more customer-centric approach. This includes providing a better overall experience, including personalized consumer-level engagement and education resources. APIs shorten technology development times and give carriers, brokers and technology insurance companies the tools to adapt.

“APIs allow operators to interact effectively with their trading partners, but the real value is at the consumer level,” says Ocampo. “APIs propel the benefits of a once-a-year experience into ongoing engagement that better aligns with consumer experiences outside of our industry. “

Shaping this narrative, Ocampo explained how API connections help consumers quickly retrieve their unique coverage information, claim details and educational materials in a variety of formats, whether online or through an app. Simply put, API connections help simplify the product for consumers. When the connections exist, consumers can easily identify how their plans work in concert with basic medical care, as well as what benefits they are entitled to based on plan specifics.

“Overall, APIs help provide a personalized experience, rather than a one-size-fits-all solution. Going forward, carriers can expose APIs to partner brokers and insurance carriers, to perform unique transactions, improve operational efficiencies, and enhance experiences,” adds Ocampo. “Carriers that can easily interact with these partners and play within this ecosystem will have an advantage.”

Wellfleet is the trade name used to refer to the insurance and administrative operations of Wellfleet Insurance Company, Wellfleet New York Insurance Company and Wellfleet Group, LLC. All insurance products are administered or managed by Wellfleet Group, LLC. Product availability is based on commercial and/or regulatory approval and may differ from company to company.

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