Utility Programming Interfaces and How They Profit the Business


This put up is a part of a collection sponsored by AgentSync.

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

Whereas not restricted to the insurance coverage sector, APIs are rising in popularity amongst insurance coverage and insurtech organizations, and for good motive! 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 could really feel like simply the most recent buzzword being tossed round by tech corporations, APIs are greater than a passing pattern. API, which stands for utility programming interface, refers to an middleman layer of software program that allows two totally different programs to switch knowledge seamlessly between them.

To simplify, APIs assist functions to speak to one another. Whereas there are totally different API constructions (which we’ll get into shortly), the tip purpose of every is to provide organizations a extra accessible and standardized strategy 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 via a state of affairs you’ve most likely discovered your self in earlier than: calling an Uber.

If you use a ridesharing app to request transportation, you might be interacting with an API. The Uber app connects to the web and sends knowledge like your present location and your most well-liked 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 manner you possibly can perceive, like by supplying you with the fee and estimated time of arrival on 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 manner that makes it clear to you that you simply’re going to overlook your flight.

What are the several types of APIs?

APIs may be cut up into a number of totally different “sorts” relying on the way you categorize them. One widespread strategy to differentiate APIs is by their supposed viewers, during which 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. Personal APIs: Also referred to as inside APIs, non-public APIs are hidden from exterior customers and the organizations that construct and preserve them don’t share them for out of doors consumption. Personal APIs face extra restrictions and solely approved people can entry them.
  3. Companion APIs: Companion APIs are a cheerful medium, which a enterprise builds and maintains for its personal use and that of its strategic enterprise companions. Customers want particular authorization to entry associate APIS, and so they aren’t obtainable for the general public.

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

What are SOAP APIs?

The easy object entry protocol, higher referred to as SOAP, is an API construction sort that helps complicated knowledge exchanges. The SOAP construction is just like the founding father of API constructions. It’s older, extra established, extra clearly outlined, and extra tightly managed than different architectures.

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

A fast be aware 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 manage knowledge.

Two widespread messaging codecs are JSON, or JavaScript object notation, and XML, or extensible markup language. XML presents a fancy, however free-form skill to construction your knowledge, and is utilized in all types of various applied sciences. JSON is an easier format, 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 complicated knowledge exchanges. Nevertheless, its stricter guidelines and decrease flexibility have led to its reputation lower compared to different API sorts.

What are REST APIs?

American pc scientist Roy Fielding developed the representational state switch structure, extra generally referred to as REST or RESTful, as one other method to constructing APIs. Its flexibility and skill 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 standard programming languages, like Java, C#, Javascript, and extra. The trendy tooling obtainable for REST APIs makes them a well-liked 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 easy methods to use it.

Total, the principle draw of REST APIs is simply how scalable and versatile they’re. Builders can shortly and simply combine REST APIs with their pre-existing softwares and not using a entire lot of added work.

Why do APIs matter in insurance coverage?

It’s attainable you clicked on this text merely since you had been interested by APIs, during which case I hope you’re discovering it useful. Nevertheless, it’s extra possible 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 client expertise by growing effectivity and permitting for larger personalization in a corporation’s services and products
  • Lower guide work, saving workers precious effort and time
  • Save prices and downtime by eliminating the necessity to develop and/or combine functions from scratch

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

API integrations are significantly useful to insurance coverage organizations that have already got a strong, extremely built-in tech stack in place. For instance, legacy carriers with bespoke programs may be reluctant so as to add one other layer of absolutely developed software program, like a standalone compliance answer, into their tech stack. As a substitute, it could be extra environment friendly and cost-effective to string API knowledge via their present 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, provider appointments, and adjuster licensing. With correct, easy-to-understand knowledge delivered straight into your present programs, your groups can lower 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 in the present day.

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