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ACORD XML Standards

CIOs agree that ACORD's XML initiatives are playing a role in helping carriers achieve end-to-end e-processing.


Hugh Anderson, Director, Agency/Broker E-business,The Hartford (Hartford)

Neal Ruffalo, VP, Enterprise Technology, ACUITY (Sheboygan, WI)

Derek Scannell, CIO, Swiss Re L&H North America (Armonk, NY)

Doug Hewitt, VP of E-commerce, CGU Canada (Scarborough, ON)


Q: What is going on in your organization in terms of end-to-end electronic processing? Are there any initiatives underway—if so, in what areas?

A: Hugh Anderson, The Hartford: Initiatives are underway at The Hartford to leverage end-to-end processing wherever possible in our e-business strategies, in order to provide our agents, brokers, and customers with unmatched "ease of doing business." Opportunities are there across the policy life cycle, including but not limited to new business quoting and policy issuance, endorsements, renewals, and billing and claim inquiries.

A: Neal Ruffalo, ACUITY: ACUITY has partnered with Applied Systems (University Park, IL) to empower our agents with real-time quote and application submission capability. This year, we have partnered with agent software provider MI-Assistant (Eleva, WI) to allow agents to bridge information from their comparative rater into the ACUITY online rating and application submission system. We are also working on initiatives to empower our agents with online, real-time business tools. Examples include online claims loss runs and certificates of insurance.

A: Derek Scannell, Swiss Re Life and Health North America: As a reinsurer, we don't deal with the direct public. Our clients are insurers. Swiss Re has explored how to streamline our processes and help remove the frictional cost that exists both in our own processes, and the interactions between ourselves, our partners and our clients.

We get a lot of business reported to us electronically right now. There is a model already in place and most of the information we process is electronic today; we process EDI files (ETs) which are physical tapes, cartridges or disks. Increasingly, we have had clients telling us that they are not going to send us paper anymore, which is great. But all the ETs are physically mailed, so we are looking at how we can do more electronic straight-through processing (STP) by first exchanging data electronically. The focus is on policy and accounting data, but we plan to extend coverage to support underwriting and claims.

A: Doug Hewitt, CGU Canada: At CGU Canada, our broker portal initiative is underway. It is an extranet that extends processing capabilities to our brokers.

Q: What are the obstacles to achieving end-to-end processing in insurance? For example, is it a standards, skill, or cost issue? Are there particular technology obstacles (e.g., integration issues, vendor package limitations)?

A: Anderson, The Hartford: There are complex critical success factors involved. We are managing these challenges through solid strategy fully supported by senior management, proper investments in intellectual capital and technology, and strong e-business relationships with our industry partners. Standards are essential and continue to evolve. Internet technology continues to mature, and is rapidly changing the definition of what is achievable.

A: Ruffalo, ACUITY: The development of the XML standard by ACORD affords a broad array of interface options. But as is with almost any set of new standards, they are a work in progress. Methods and systems need to be developed to utilize the new standards in both the agency management systems as well as the carrier systems. Value-added business partners also have to re-tool to leverage the standards.

So, not only is the industry running into costs and challenges of buying or building systems that can support end-to-end processing, they must also build the framework to sustain system performance, and availability nearing 7x24, all while trying to secure the information passing back and forth.

A: Scannell, SwissRe: Existing home-grown and packaged systems in both our clients' and our own environments act as an obstacle to achieving end-to-end processing. We spend a lot of time mapping data from one format to another because all the systems have different formats. Systems are changing constantly. The process is therefore manually intensive for both ourselves and our clients.

A: Hewitt, CGU Canada: Skills and cost were obstacles which we are still overcoming. Technology obstacles include integration issues and vendor package limitations—especially integration obstacles, as there is an acceptance that the legacy system remains.

Q: Are ACORD's XML initiatives playing a role in helping your organization achieve end-to-end processing?

A: Anderson, The Hartford: Yes, absolutely. ACORD XML is an essential building block in being able to seamlessly integrate transaction processing across disparate systems in real time. We have invested a great deal of time and effort in the development of the ACORD XML standards through subcommittee representation and appointments to positions of leadership on the Board of Directors and the P&C Standards Steering Committee.

A: Ruffalo, ACUITY: Definitely! Outside of implementing auto, home, and personal package quote-and-submission and claim-loss run inquiry, we are also creating strategic enterprise API's and infrastructures that will allow XML communication with our internal systems as well.

A: Scannell, SwissRe: I am very pleased to say that following the acquisition of Lincoln Re we are now keen to be more actively involved in ACORD. Swiss Re has been involved up to now, but we have been relatively passive-at least on the life-and-health side. Lincoln Re has been more active, and we have every intention of using some of our new colleagues from Fort Wayne to help us in this endeavor. Standards will have an impact prospectively as more and more companies adopt XML.

A: Hewitt, CGU Canada: ACORD XML initiatives assist CGU Canada in developing Canadian standards. This will come into play in the industry this year (

Q: Are there technology innovations or trends that will help speed up the achievement of straighthrough processing in the claims or general insurance space? Are there business/technology trends, such as an increased interest in wireless/ mobile applications, that might accelerate—or impede—the movement toward STP in insurance?

A: Anderson, The Hartford: The players that win in e-business will be able to provide an unmatched "ease of doing business" through automation wherever, whenever and however an agent, broker or customer might want. As long as there is bandwidth available, and support for standards-based interfaces, any mobile/remote devices, or other advancements in technology that enable this to happen will only accelerate opportunities for STP.

A: Ruffalo, ACUITY: XML is an architectural silver bullet. The alignment of IVANS (Old Greenwich, CT), Applied Systems, AMS (Fairfax, VA), and Doris (Alpharetta, GA) with Transformation Station has set the stage to allow the industry to reach once-and-done processing in a real-time environment. This is the closest the industry has been to SEMCI. While both are a great leap forward for industry automation, there is plenty of work to be done.

A: Scannell, SwissRe: In reinsurance the biggest single technology will be XML. I think some middleware trends are also having a significant impact, particularly developments around messaging infrastructure and middleware.

A: Hewitt, CGU Canada: The CSIO portal will force the Canadian industry to evaluate what companies are doing, in order to connect. Brokers will demand a critical mass of companies to participate.

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