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Utility Programming Interfaces and How They Profit the Trade

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Utility Programming Interfaces and How They Profit the Trade

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This submit is a part of a sequence sponsored by AgentSync.

Insurance coverage is filled with enjoyable acronyms. So full, in reality, that we’ve written a number of items like this one and this one to try to cowl as many as potential. Whereas these articles gives you extra context on issues like NPNs, the NAIC, or P&C, on this article we’re discussing a more moderen child on the insurance coverage acronym block: APIs.

Whereas not restricted to the insurance coverage sector, APIs are gaining popularity amongst insurance coverage and insurtech organizations, and for good cause! So, with out additional ado, let’s dive in to a dialogue about APIs together with what they’re and why they matter in insurance coverage.

What’s an API?

Whereas it might really feel like simply the most recent buzzword being tossed round by tech firms, APIs are greater than a passing development. API, which stands for software programming interface, refers to an middleman layer of software program that permits two totally different programs to switch knowledge seamlessly between them.

To simplify, APIs assist purposes to speak to one another. Whereas there are totally different API buildings (which we’ll get into shortly), the tip aim of every is to offer organizations a extra accessible and standardized technique to share knowledge each internally and externally.

How do APIs work?

To grasp how an API works with out getting caught up in a bunch of tech bro mumbo jumbo, let’s stroll by way of a state of affairs you’ve in all probability discovered your self in earlier than: calling an Uber.

Once you use a ridesharing app to request transportation, you’re interacting with an API. The Uber app connects to the web and sends knowledge like your present location and your most popular vacation spot to a server. That server retrieves the info, interprets it, after which sends related knowledge again to the app. The app then interprets this new knowledge and presents it again to you in a approach you may perceive, like by providing you with the price and estimated time of arrival to your experience.

The API comes into play as quickly as you open the request for a experience. Your request for a last-minute Uber to the airport is shipped to the API, which retrieves knowledge like present site visitors situations, obtainable drivers, and quickest routes and returns it to you in a approach that makes it clear to you that you simply’re going to overlook your flight.

What are the various kinds of APIs?

APIs will be cut up into a number of totally different “varieties” relying on the way you categorize them. One frequent technique to differentiate APIs is by their meant viewers, wherein case we are able to separate them like this:

  1. Public APIs: Additionally known as exterior or open APIs, public APIs can be found to builders and customers with little to no restrictions. Take into consideration the Uber instance.
  2. Non-public APIs: Often known as inner APIs, non-public APIs are hidden from exterior customers and the organizations that construct and preserve them don’t share them for outdoor consumption. Non-public APIs face extra restrictions and solely approved people can entry them.
  3. Companion APIs: Companion APIs are a contented medium, which a enterprise builds and maintains for its personal use and that of its strategic enterprise companions. Customers want particular authorization to entry accomplice APIS, they usually aren’t obtainable for the general public.

One other frequent technique to categorize APIs is by their construction. You will have heard of two of the commonest API buildings, SOAP and REST; to not be mistaken for an especially simplified self-care routine.

What are SOAP APIs?

The easy object entry protocol, higher often known as SOAP, is an API construction kind that helps advanced knowledge exchanges. The SOAP construction is just like the founding father of API buildings. It’s older, extra established, extra clearly outlined, and extra tightly managed than different architectures.

One of many important variations between SOAP and REST is that SOAP APIs solely enable knowledge to be exchanged by way of an XML format.

A fast observe on knowledge codecs

Information codecs are guidelines for structuring knowledge in order that it may be saved or shared throughout totally different networks and databases. The information format dictates preset specs for a way builders should set up knowledge.

Two frequent messaging codecs are JSON, or JavaScript object notation, and XML, or extensible markup language. XML gives a fancy, however free-form means to construction your knowledge, and is utilized in all kinds of various applied sciences. JSON is a less complicated format, as compared, however has turn out to be the lingua franca of REST APIs.

SOAP was one of many first standardized API codecs on the scene, and has efficiently been utilized in advanced knowledge exchanges. Nonetheless, its stricter guidelines and decrease flexibility have led to its reputation lower compared to different API varieties.

What are REST APIs?

American pc scientist Roy Fielding developed the representational state switch structure, extra generally often known as REST or RESTful, as one other method to constructing APIs. Its flexibility and talent to ship knowledge by way of XML, JSON, and different messaging codecs, has cemented the REST construction as a substitute for the restrictions of SOAP.

REST APIs have a wealthy ecosystem of software program tooling permitting them to be simply accessed from fashionable programming languages, like Java, C#, Javascript, and extra. The fashionable tooling obtainable for REST APIs makes them a preferred selection for low-cost, high-reward software program.

REST APIs are generally documented within the OpenAPI format, which means builders can simply decide precisely how they work and what they do. For instance, anybody (with the technical know-how) can take a look at AgentSync’s ProducerSync API documentation and decide methods to use it.

General, the principle draw of REST APIs is simply how scalable and versatile they’re. Builders can rapidly and simply combine REST APIs with their pre-existing softwares with no entire lot of added work.

Why do APIs matter in insurance coverage?

It’s potential you clicked on this text merely since you have been inquisitive about APIs, wherein case I hope you’re discovering it useful. Nonetheless, it’s extra seemingly you’re right here to be taught why APIs matter, and extra particularly why they matter within the insurance coverage trade.

Talking broadly, industries throughout the board leverage APIs for digital transformation. Incorporating APIs into enterprise operations can:

  • Enhance the shopper expertise by growing effectivity and permitting for larger personalization in a corporation’s services and products
  • Lower guide work, saving staff worthwhile effort and time
  • Save prices and downtime by eliminating the necessity to develop and/or combine purposes from scratch

Insurance coverage carriers and companies have a number of good use-cases for APIs, from compliance knowledge to claims processing, fee processing, and background checks. In the case of insurance coverage, having up-to-date producer licensing and onboarding knowledge on the level of motion is a should. By leveraging APIs, carriers, companies, and MGAs can entry present knowledge when and the place they want it.

API integrations are notably helpful to insurance coverage organizations that have already got a sturdy, extremely built-in tech stack in place. For instance, legacy carriers with bespoke programs could be reluctant so as to add one other layer of totally developed software program, like a standalone compliance resolution, into their tech stack. As a substitute, it might be extra environment friendly and cost-effective to string API knowledge by way of their current programs.

Humanize your knowledge with AgentSync’s ProducerSync API

AgentSync’s ProducerSync API is a REST API that gives entry to greater than 200 knowledge factors, together with producer licensing, service appointments, and adjuster licensing. With correct, easy-to-understand knowledge delivered straight into your current programs, your groups can reduce hours of analysis and guesswork from their workflows.

Prepared to begin leveraging APIs for sooner speed-to-revenue, extra environment friendly compliance groups, and decrease enterprise threat? Contact AgentSync as we speak.

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