Industrial insurers are currently trying out different digitization scenarios for collaboration with sales partners. A highly promising approach is to integrate their sales processes with the broker software used by selected partners. These partners can thereby obtain offers and sell policies directly in their accustomed software environment.

What shape is digital collaboration taking? That is one of the questions that currently preoccupy industrial and commercial insurers. In the course of digitization market participants are sounding out how their digital infrastructure can interlock. A principal focus is on sales processes between insurers and insurance brokers.

Some insurers already provide their sales partners with individualized Web portals. These portals offer brokers significant benefits when compared with traditional manual processes. They used to have to contact the insurer by phone, fax or email to request quotations that the insurer made by email. In the portal they can now input their customers’ risk descriptions themselves and then receive an immediate quote.

From Sales Portal to Integration into Broker Software

In the long term, however, the portal approach – an initiative of the insurers for insurance brokers – is only of limited attractiveness. The broker’s task is, after all, to sound out the market for his or her customers and invite offers from several insurers. Even if every insurer were to provide a sales portal, which at present is far from being the case, a broker would need, on his client’s behalf, to input the necessary data in all of these portals. The quotations, as PDF files, he would then have to file by hand in his filing system. The administrative expense would remain high.

An essential prerequisite: the insurer already has digitized the products in question for collaboration.

That is why a digital collaboration approach that might become more widely used in the future starts with an integration of the broker software and the insurers’ systems. An essential prerequisite is that the insurer must already have digitized the products in question for collaboration. He must also have an IT system with which he can enable external partners to access processes such as tariffing, quotation, application and the provision of contract documents and invoices (typically as PDF files).

Win-Win: Benefits for Both Insurers and Brokers

For brokers the benefits are self-evident. Employees no longer need to log onto additional portals in order to receive quotations from industrial insurers. They will simply select the customer in their broker software and request quotations and policies from out of their software. Data in the broker’s records such as the customer’s address is entered directly into the online quotation request form. Employees will merely have to input additional product-specific information such as the number of employees in the case of a legal protection policy.

Integration is advantageous for insurers too. They will thereby establish sales channels for standardized products that totally automate sales. That is the only way to stay profitable for insurance products with annual premiums of a few hundred euros. Integration makes access to products as simple as possible for brokers, thereby increasing acceptance of digital sales.

Acceptable Cost of Integration

The objective from the broker’s viewpoint is clear. Ideally, broker software should enable the broker to press a key and request several quotations from different insurers. The insurers’ replies in a standard format such as the BiPRO interfaces would enable the offers to be compared. On this basis the manufacturer of the broker software could implement easy-to-use comparison mechanisms.

Integrating the software systems of two market participants continues to some extent to be a peer-to-peer implementation.

To reach this level of digital connectivity, however, the market participants must jointly take this form of digital collaboration forward. All integration must be undertaken individually. Using standards such as BiPRO interfaces provides a formal framework as a sound basis. Nevertheless, insurance products still contain specifics that require mapping of data models. Integrating the software systems of two market participants continues to some extent to be a peer-to-peer implementation.

That is why digital cooperation only takes place from time to time, representing a commitment to close collaboration with the partners in question. Experience with integration projects of this kind shows that they are an attractive means of digital collaboration between insurers and partners. For a well-established IT team with a clean architecture solution from previous integration projects implementation can take less than three months.