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Utility Programming Interfaces and How They Profit the Trade

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

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Insurance coverage is stuffed with enjoyable acronyms. So full, actually, that we’ve written a number of items like this one and this one to attempt to cowl as many as potential. Whereas these articles provides 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 gaining popularity amongst insurance coverage and insurtech organizations, and for good purpose! 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.

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What’s an API?

Whereas it might really feel like simply the newest 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 permits two totally different programs to switch information 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 objective of every is to offer organizations a extra accessible and standardized strategy to share information each internally and externally.

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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 a situation you’ve most likely discovered your self in earlier than: calling an Uber.

Whenever you use a ridesharing app to request transportation, you’re interacting with an API. The Uber app connects to the web and sends information like your present location and your most popular vacation spot to a server. That server retrieves the info, interprets it, after which sends related information again to the app. The app then interprets this new information and presents it again to you in a manner you’ll be able to perceive, like by providing you with the fee and estimated time of arrival to your journey.

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The API comes into play as quickly as you open the request for a journey. Your request for a last-minute Uber to the airport is shipped to the API, which retrieves information like present visitors circumstances, accessible 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 could be break up into a number of totally different “sorts” relying on the way you categorize them. One widespread strategy to differentiate APIs is by their meant viewers, wherein case we are able to separate them like this:

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  1. Public APIs: Additionally referred to 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: 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 out of doors consumption. Personal APIs face extra restrictions and solely licensed 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 associate APIS, and so they aren’t accessible for the general public.

One other widespread strategy to categorize APIs is by their construction. You might have heard of two of the most typical 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 often known as SOAP, is an API construction kind that helps advanced information 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 foremost variations between SOAP and REST is that SOAP APIs solely enable information to be exchanged by way of an XML format.

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A fast notice on information codecs

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

Two widespread messaging codecs are JSON, or JavaScript object notation, and XML, or extensible markup language. XML presents a posh, however free-form skill to construction your information, and is utilized in all types of various applied sciences. JSON is an easier format, as compared, however has turn out to be the lingua franca of REST APIs.

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

What are REST APIs?

American laptop scientist Roy Fielding developed the representational state transfer architecture, extra generally often known as REST or RESTful, as one other strategy to constructing APIs. Its flexibility and skill to ship information by way of XML, JSON, and different messaging codecs, has cemented the REST construction as an alternative choice to the constraints of SOAP.

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

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

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General, the primary 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 complete lot of added work.

Why do APIs matter in insurance coverage?

It’s potential you clicked on this text merely since you had been inquisitive about APIs, wherein 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 business.

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

  • Enhance the client expertise by rising effectivity and permitting for larger personalization in a company’s services
  • Lower guide work, saving staff invaluable 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 information to claims processing, fee processing, and background checks. In the case of insurance coverage, having up-to-date producer licensing and onboarding data at the point of action is a must. By leveraging APIs, carriers, businesses, and MGAs can entry present information 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 could 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 might be extra environment friendly and cost-effective to string API information by their current programs.

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Humanize your information with AgentSync’s ProducerSync API

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

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

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