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NAILBA Announces Fixed-Product XML Standard

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NU Online News Service, March 31, 2003, 4:40 p.m. EST – The National Association of Independent Life Brokerage Agencies, Fairfax, Va., has announced a new technology standard for agency management systems.

The standard, which will help independent producers exchange information about fixed annuities and fixed life policies with insurers, is based on the XMLife format from the Association for Cooperative Operations Research and Development, Pearl River, N.Y.

The new NAILBA standard “is the first in a series involving the conversion of agency management systems to ACORD XMLife standardized format,” NAILBA says. “Major companies from both [carriers and agency management system vendors] are expected to adopt and implement the standard by year-end.”

NAILBA will be providing the fixed-product standard for free to agencies and to carriers that are ACORD members, according to Jeff Kraber, NAILBA’s technology advocate.

“It’s an open standard,” Kraber says.

XML is a set of rules for developing systems for labeling the pieces of information in an electronic data file. Businesses can use software built around XML standards to translate data from one format to another or to draw data from many different computer systems into a single application.

ACORD has been working to establish XML standards for the insurance industry.

NAILBA says its technology committee teamed up with insurers and agency management system vendors to come up with the new fixed-product standard.

Agents can download the new fixed-product standard for free from the NAILBA site, at http://www.nailba.org/technology/acord_standards.htm

Kraber says the standard will work with the latest versions of the Integrated Insurance Technologies and Agency Works agency management systems, among others, but he suggests that users without an agency management system will “need to know someone who knows XML” to use the new standard.

Rick Heil, ACORD’s life standards program manager, says NAILBA and ACORD are “focusing on the issues of concern to independent producers and trying to use broad standards and apply them to solve day-to-day issues.”

One issue is the need for a system that agents can use to submit new business to more than one company. NAILBA and ACORD are also trying to develop a system that insurers can use to deliver in-force and pending case status information in a standardized format.

Overall, Heil says, the emphasis is on consistency.

“You want to be able to get information to and from companies in a consistent format,” Heil says.

Information that is formatted in a consistent manner will be more timely and more meaningful, Heil adds.