The Boost Policy Admin System: How We’re Different
Sep 16, 2022
As an insurance infrastructure-as-a-service partner, Boost provides more than just white-label insurance products: we also provide the technical infrastructure necessary to digitally offer those products on your website. The most important part of any insurance tech stack is the policy administration system (PAS), which is the system of record for every transaction related to an insurance policy. As part of Boost’s API platform, we deliver a state-of-the-art policy admin system (PAS) to support our products at every stage of their policies’ lifecycle. What makes Boost’s policy admin system so special? Here are seven factors that set us apart. One of the most complex parts of building a PAS is accounting for the differences between state insurance regulations. Insurance products must be approved by each individual state that you want to sell in, and each state has its own laws, regulations, and requirements regarding the sale of insurance. Depending on the state, you may need to account for changes in areas like: These parameters are built into Boost’s policy admin system. When a transaction takes place, our PAS will automatically apply the necessary rules for the customer’s specific state. This ensures that every transaction is compliant with relevant state regulations. State regulations change, however, and today’s "fully-compliant" is tomorrow’s "out-of-date." To make sure Boost's policy administration system keeps up, we have a team of in-house insurance law experts who carefully follow insurance regulatory developments in all fifty states, and provide guidance to the Boost technical team to ensure our PAS stays current. With Boost, you never have to worry about staying on top of state regulatory changes - we do it for you. A seamless transaction experience is important for converting customers, but a seamless claims experience is important for keeping them. When your customers suffer a covered loss, a fast, easy claims process helps deepen their relationship and engagement with your brand. With Boost’s PAS, the potentially complex claims management process is made simple. Rather than having to manually contact carriers and manage the process yourself, our first notice of loss (FNOL) API acts as a unified point of entry to all the services you need. Our FNOL API is connected to all appropriate claims administrators. When a customer submits a claim for their policy, we automatically route that claim to the right administrator, along with all available supporting documentation. The administrator gets everything they need to start working on the claim, in real-time. This helps reduce the overall time needed to process a claim, which then means faster resolution for your customers. User experience is a vital component of any digital service, but we’re equally concerned with developer experience. Our insurance API was built from the ground up to leverage modern RESTful patterns, and to be easy for developers to build to and implement. The API is also designed for consistency, so that once developers understand a given resource, they understand how to use it across our platform. From issuing a policy to executing a renewal, midterm endorsement, or cancellation, once your engineers understand how to do it once, they can do it anywhere. An essential piece of a developer-friendly API is good documentation, and so we make sure that our documentation is exceptional. Boost’s API documentation is intuitively organized, personalized to your business, and updated in real-time - so you’ll never need to worry about working with outdated docs. You’ll also get permanent access to a dedicated testing environment, so you can build out integrations and test new platform features with no surprises when you go live. All this makes it easier than ever to get your developers up to speed, which means you can get to market or make updates to your integration that much faster. One reason why building a PAS is a complex and expensive process is that the system must be separately configured for each insurance product it supports, and each additional product adds to the cost and timeline. This can be a roadblock for insurtechs looking to expand their offerings with new lines of business. At Boost, our partners can choose from seven white-label insurance products (with more to come). Our PAS is fully configured to support each product at their launch, so our partner can easily add new LOBs by simply updating their existing API connections to include additional Boost products. Rather than needing to work with multiple insurance providers to get the breadth of products that you want to sell, and having to integrate multiple other systems and products into a PAS, you can integrate one time with Boost and still benefit from multiple lines. Growing your business by expanding your LOBs has never been simpler. It may feel like the entire world has gone all-digital, but a surprising amount of insurance isn’t quite there yet. Many traditional carriers provide partners with the ability to rate and quote customers digitally…but then switch to manual processes to complete the transaction. Critical insurance functions like issuing policies, creating endorsements, filing claims, or processing renewals regularly require you to contact the carrier, then wait for a response. Boost’s policy admin system supports an entirely digital workflow end–to-end, allowing you to offer your customers a truly seamless digital insurance experience. From underwriting to policy modification to renewal, any function necessary for an insurance transaction can be performed through the PAS, with an instant automated response. There’s no need for either you or your customers to ever pick up the phone. The Boost PAS is built on an enterprise-grade platform, leveraging modern industry tools like Kubernetes and Terraform. With 99.99%+ uptime, multi-region support, and the ability to handle multiple releases per day, you can count on the Boost insurance platform to be available when you need it. We understand that stability is vital, and that’s why we’re also careful to ensure that the Boost insurance platform is versioned so that it stays backwards-compatible. If you build an integration based on a current feature set, and we make changes in a future release, your integration won’t break. You’ll be able to keep using it the way you always have - which translates to lower development costs over time since you aren’t forced to redo your work every time we make a big update. Modern customers expect their digital experiences to be speedy, and Boost delivers. The response time of our API is up to 10x faster than other insurance carriers. That means when we get a request through the API, we can process data and get a response back to the user with unmatched speed. No waiting around for a loading bar to tick through - the customer gets what they need immediately, and gets on with their transaction. Working with Boost helps you launch new or expanded insurance offerings at a fraction of the time and cost required to DIY, and a significant part of that savings is driven by our PAS. We built it from the ground up to deliver a fast, reliable, developer-friendly platform, so you can get what you need, when you need it, and get back to growing your business. To learn more about insurance infrastructure-as-a-service through Boost, contact us, or dive into building your insurance program with Boost Launchpad. Continue Reading
What Makes a Good API?
Jan 13, 2023
APIs have become ubiquitous in modern technology - and in modern tech marketing. If you’ve ever looked into buying a software service or platform in the last ten years, the odds are that a good API was listed as one of the selling points. But what exactly makes an API “good?” Before we dive into that question, let’s take a minute to recap what APIs are, and why they’ve become so central to business and technology. Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) are the mechanisms that allow computer software to communicate with each other. APIs ensure that when one software system makes a request, another system can understand the request and respond correctly. When discussing the relationship between two software systems, the application sending the request for action is called the client, and the application sending the response is called the server. For example, your bank’s software system houses all of your banking data–that software system is the server. The banking app on your phone is the client. When you initiate actions in your banking app, like making transactions, checking your account balance, or even chatting with a representative, the app communicates with the bank’s software via its API and tells it which action to perform. The server provides an API for the client to use to perform actions. Let’s say that you want to make a transfer of funds from your checking account to your savings account. You open your banking app and navigate to the transfer tab where you are asked which account you are transferring from, which account you are transferring to, the amount you want to transfer, and any additional notes before you can submit the request. Within seconds of submitting your request, the number on your checking account decreases and the number on your savings account increases, and the physical amount of money you can withdraw from the bank for both accounts has changed. For this to happen and money to actually be moved, the app needs a way to tell the bank’s system what to do. That is where the API comes in. The APIs are the rules and protocols that are coded into both systems as a set of predetermined requests and responses. When you enter how much money you want to move and where you want to move it to, the client communicates with the API on the server. When the server receives that request, it reads the information and executes a predetermined set of actions to move exactly the amount of money that you requested into the correct account. From a technical standpoint, APIs consist of two main components: an address and a body. The address, also known as an endpoint, tells the data where it's supposed to go (in our example, the bank’s system). The body is the data that will be delivered to that address. APIs allow developers to automate functions and create a very clear, easy-to-understand relationship between what the user needs to do and what the computer systems will do in response to their requests. Without APIs, the modern conveniences of apps, digital transactions, and the like couldn't exist. Everything would require human, manual interference. Instead of quickly logging into an app on your phone to make a transfer of funds, you would have to physically go into your bank or talk to a teller over the phone, and your request would take much longer to process. But because of the code and predetermined actions built into digital systems through APIs, users can interact with services much faster. You can transfer your money in seconds, and the bank can gather your information, automate manual processes, and make their work more efficient. Now that we’ve established what an API is and why they are important, let’s talk about what makes a good API. While all APIs follow the same principle of allowing systems to communicate, not all APIs function equally well. The quality at which an API is developed impacts how effective any system will be at actually doing what the user is asking for. So what makes a good, well-constructed API? Here are 5 aspects of a good API. First and foremost, APIs should be simple. This means having clear addresses, endpoints, and easy-to-understand request body structures. In our banking example, the bank’s software and the app’s software are presumably owned and operated by the same company–the bank. Oftentimes, however, the client and the server belong to different companies. Developers at both companies will need to build their systems to be able to understand the API and react accordingly. A simple, straightforward API structure makes it easier to correctly implement. Let's take a look at an insurance API example. Say that you own a pet store and you have partnered with an insurance carrier to offer embedded pet insurance to your customers. In order for your customers to purchase insurance from you, they have to enter their information in a form on your website. Then the insurance company receives that information, makes an underwriting decision, and issues the policy. In order for the insurance company to receive your customers’ information and take action on it, your front-end systems need to communicate with your insurance partner’s system. The set of requests and responses between these separate systems should be simple and clear. The simpler the API, the faster and more seamless the integration between these two systems will be, and the fewer opportunities for mistakes. A good API should be able to execute all (or at least most) of the functions a user would need. Going back to our bank example, an app that allowed the user to check their balance but not to transfer funds wouldn’t be very useful to the customer. To be effective, the bank’s API needs to be able to handle most of the things a customer might want to use their bank app for. For more complex functions, it’s important that an API be able to collect and process all of the information needed to return a response. For our pet insurance example, let’s say that in order to decide to issue a policy, the insurance company needs ten pieces of information from the customer. If the API could only handle five of those pieces of information, the rest would need to be submitted separately (likely over email or a phone call with an insurance agent). It would be an inconvenient experience for both the customer and the insurance company, and increase the likelihood of manual errors. A good insurance API would be able to collect and process all information needed to issue a policy, right from the app or website. Errors are inevitable with any piece of software. What sets a good API apart from a bad one is how it handles errors when they arise. Good error handling can make the difference between getting back on track quickly, or getting bogged down in bug reports. Broadly speaking, there are two kinds of software errors: 400 errors and 500 errors. The difference between the two is how much information they can give about what’s gone wrong. 400-type errors are specific errors with an identified problem. One of the most familiar is a “404 not found” error, which occurs on the web when a user tries to navigate to a web page that doesn’t exist. If you’ve ever mistyped a URL or clicked on an old link to an inactive page, you’ve seen a 404 error. Because 400-type errors give a specific reason for why the request failed, they also give direction on how to go about fixing the problem. 500-type errors, on the other hand, are much less clear. 500 errors indicate general server failures, crashes, or bugs. These tend to be more frustrating for users and developers alike, since they don’t contain much to go on for how to fix it. A good API should be able to produce mostly 400-type errors that identify the problem so that it can be easily tracked and fixed. When an API produces a lot of unidentifiable 500 errors, it indicates a poor-quality API. While not technically part of the API itself, good documentation is essential to a successful API. As developers integrate systems or build the API rules into an app, documentation has a direct impact on how quickly they can work, and how well they can avoid errors. Good documentation should specifically describe each of the endpoints, what the requests should contain, and what the responses will contain. In many applications, an API will touch various parts of an overall system. This is especially true for more complex operations like our pet insurance example. On the user’s side, applying for insurance might seem like a straightforward software operation - they fill out the form, and the software sends it. On the insurance company’s side, however, it’s much more complex. When the user submits their application, numerous parts of the insurance company’s system will be involved with the process. One part of the system will document the personal information they provided in the application. Another part will use that information to make calculations around premium costs, and still another part will generate the policy itself. In order to make sure this all happens seamlessly, developers need access to comprehensive, up-to-date documentation for how all these components interact and are executed via the API. Finally, a key benefit of APIs in general is speed. Rather than trudging through manual processes, APIs are meant to automate functions that would take much longer if human interactions were required. A good API should allow information to be passed between servers quickly and efficiently. Going back to our earlier examples, no one wants to sit and wait to see if their bank transfer request or their insurance application was successfully received. For the best user experience, APIs should process requests in less than a second. If an API is slow to respond, it may indicate inefficient architecture, or that the servers are housed on insufficiently powerful hardware. APIs allow businesses to function in a modern, technologically savvy way. By continuously improving the communication between client and server systems, consumers have access to a wider variety of digital transactions and services than ever before. If you want to learn more about Boost’s API and how we can help your business stand out through insurance-as-a-service, contact us, or dive into building your insurance program with Boost Launchpad. Continue Reading
What is Parental Leave Insurance?
May 10, 2022
If you’ve never heard of parental leave insurance, you’re not alone. Parental leave insurance is a relatively new product on the market but an increasingly necessary one. Let’s explore a few of the reasons why parental leave is important and what solutions insurance can offer. Becoming a new parent is a major life event that can be happy and exciting, but it can also present challenges in the workplace for both employees and employers. Over 60 million Americans are parents, but the U.S. is one of the few countries worldwide with no universal parental leave requirements. As such, nearly 30% of working women quit their jobs after giving birth. In states that do require paid parental leave, however, the rate of mothers leaving the workforce dropped 20-50%. It’s no surprise that according to recent studies, “When deciding to accept a job offer, 66% of employees said the employer’s paid parental leave policy is important.” Parental leave is a significant DEI issue for retaining female employees who become mothers. Social and cultural shifts over the past few decades have made this issue more important than ever. “With the increase in female employment rates, coupled with the decline of the male breadwinner family model…entitlements to job-protected leave after childbirth has become important policy measures to support parents” (EIGE). Employees ranked parental leave as the third most desired benefit, outranked only by flexible work and paid insurance premiums, but many small and medium enterprises (SMEs) don’t offer it. In fact, only 23% of private employers in the U.S. offer paid parental leave in their benefits package, which puts SMEs at high risk of losing their employees when parenthood arises. Though paid parental leave is a highly requested benefit, it can be expensive for businesses to cover. For SMEs, this often prohibits them from offering any benefit at all. Adding to the difficulty, paid parental leave is also an unknown liability on the balance sheet. Employers can't predict if or when their employees will use it, which translates to a potentially large expense that they can’t accurately plan and budget for. The Facebooks and Googles of the world can afford to be generous and pay that out of pocket, but many smaller companies can't. This puts those smaller companies at a disadvantage for both acquiring and retaining talent. In the absence of a national parental leave solution, it’s up to the private sector to find ways to support new parents in the workforce. Parental leave insurance is a business insurance innovation designed to make parental leave affordable for small and medium enterprises. This is how it works: an insurance provider offers the parental leave insurance product, sometimes as part of a larger business insurance suite. The SME chooses a package that covers the kind of leave they want to offer their employees. This includes factors like what percentage of the employee’s salary will be covered and the length of leave the SME will offer. The SME then buys the policy, and pays the insurance provider a recurring premium based on their selected benefits and employee demographics. When a covered employee takes parental leave, the small or medium enterprise will file a claim through their insurance provider’s claims process. The SME will then be reimbursed for the cost of paying the employee during the covered leave period, as spelled out in the parental leave insurance policy. It’s a solution for providing this benefit that mitigates large, unexpected leave costs. Instead, the employer pays a regular, planned amount in premiums, and can rest easy knowing their insurance policy will protect them. No more unknown liabilities on their balance sheet. Meanwhile, the SME can reap the benefits of attracting and retaining top talent by offering parental leave. With over 30 million small and medium enterprises in the U.S., there is a significant opportunity for insurtechs and embedded insurance providers to help businesses affordably provide this valuable benefit to their employees. Offering a first-of-its-kind, highly desirable insurance product is a forward-thinking way to set yourself and your clients apart in the market. By offering parental leave insurance, you can help your clients attract and retain top talent. Employees are far more likely to work for a company where they feel supported, and this product is an effective way to establish your brand as focused on employees’ well-being while helping your clients to do the same. More than ever, employees want competitive, comprehensive, and inclusive insurance packages, and offering parental leave is an opportunity to positively impact employee experience and perception of their employer. Additionally, adding parental leave insurance to your product lineup creates new cross-sell opportunities to boost revenue and LTV with your existing customers, and deepens their business relationship with you. Parental leave insurance provides an opportunity to stand out from the competition. This is a first-of-its-kind product that is not being offered by many insurtechs, but benefits employers and employees alike. You have the opportunity to get ahead of the curve with this innovative white label insurance product. If you want to learn more about growing your customer LTV with Boost’s Parental Leave Insurance, contact us. Continue Reading