Life insurers no longer a laggard of the digital age

Canadian Life Insurance EDI Standards head describes great progress being made on data exchange

Life insurers no longer a laggard of the digital age
Life insurers are making great strides in terms of digital optimisation, according to the industry’s authority on electronic data exchange.

Formed in 1995, Canadian Life Insurance EDI Standards (CLIEDIS) strives to improve efficiencies through the use of dedicated feeds connecting providers with distributors, while also assisting on compliance and regulatory obligations.

Darlys Corbitt, executive director with CLIEDIS and a veteran of the insurance business outlines how greater connectivity is driving the industry forward.

“Insurance is pretty risk adverse, but I think it is making huge steps,” she says. “Most of the insurers are spending a significant amount of money on digital transformation. That’s evidenced by things like mobile apps, and most have made their websites more contemporary to appeal to millennials.”

The membership of CLIEDIS is made up of three main components: life insurers, including the Big Three of Manulife, Sun Life and Great-West Life; next are the distributors, Canada's various MGAs; and lastly are the service providers that provide back-office support.

Currently, the organisation is focused on increasing adoption of three of its main feeds: The CITS Application Notification feed, The CITS Pending Feed and The CITS Book of Business feed. The Book Of Business Feed is used to track a policy throughout its life, taking into account the status of the policy, changes in servicing agents, and notifications of business transferring in or out of a distributor's office so that a record is maintained correctly.

Life insurance is a highly complex industry with huge amounts of data to take under consideration. Added to that is the fact that some of these companies have lineage dating back to the 19th Century, so having the capability to compile and transfer data through a feed simplifies the entire process greatly, explains Corbitt.

“Pulling data from their back-end legacy systems that have been around for 50-plus years, it’s definitely a challenge for them,” she says.” But we are seeing a significant uplift in the number of feeds carriers are producing for their clients.”

It’s a criticism of the industry that insurers have lagged behind other industries in terms of embracing the digital age, but any intransigence in that regard certainly appears a thing of the past. Organisations like CLIEDIS are a great proponent of that change, and the benefits for consumers, carriers and distributors are clear, outlines Corbitt.

 “When you think about the benefits of a standardized feed, from an operating efficiency perspective, if a receiving organisation is getting data in the same format they can expect what they are getting means the same thing each and every time.”

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