Few would argue the claim that the insurance industry is far different today than it was 30 to 40 years ago. What we do is the same–take on risk for individuals and groups. But how we do it…there’s the rub.
Processes have changed in obvious ways–there’s less paper, e-mail and real-time exchange of information over the Internet. But less conspicuous and fundamental change is occurring behind the scenes–a transformation in the way the industry builds and connects the systems (large and small) that power the voluminous exchange of data that underwriting risk requires.
Industry leaders are embracing change because they need systems and processes that are not only quicker, more cost-efficient and transparent but also more adaptable and agile in order to remain competitive in this global marketplace. They are proactive: implementing now but also planning ahead and plotting the build-out of a more complete transformation at their core. This approach holds true for ACORD, as well.
ACORD standards are a vital part of communication within the industry. They enable internal and external integration and provide the foundation for data flow across the insurance value chain. But as times change, so must we. ACORD saw a need to expand standards to better serve today’s needs and plan for future developments. This is the ACORD Standards Strategy, released in March 2006. It provides a blueprint for our future and for the growth of ACORD standards.
The Strategy brings together activities from all of our domains–Life & Annuity, Property & Casualty/Surety and Reinsurance & Large Commercial–and combines them with the contribution from IBM of data process models and services to form the ACORD Standards Framework.
So, we have a foundation of achievements in form and message standards, and now we are moving toward standardization of insurance business models. The new Standards Strategy is a blueprint for growth to support industry transformation. Following are some of the recent key ACORD developments contributing to the transformation:
Standardized Life & Annuity Forms
In 2005, ACORD released the first standardized life and annuity forms available via the Internet. This was a major step forward for the industry and a program that continues to grow. Several prominent life and annuity companies led the way by authorizing ACORD to file on their behalf and then adopting and implementing them. This illustrates the spread of standards across the industry into new realms.
Property & Casualty/Surety Standard, Version 2
The ongoing transformation to Version 2 of the ACORD Property & Casualty/Surety Standard continues with the efforts of ACORD and our volunteer members. This evolution is both tactically and strategically important for the industry as, tactically, it will support more rapid and consistent implementations across the value chain. Strategically, it will be a core component of the ACORD Standards Framework, enabling adaptability in this changing industry landscape of web services, service-oriented architecture (SOA), enterprise architecture and enterprise management of data.
International Harmonized Data Dictionary
In October, ACORD, eEG7 (Western European EDIFACT Insurance Group) and CSIO (Centre for Study of Insurance Operations), based in Canada, released a harmonized data dictionary for the insurance industry that marked the completion of efforts by this international coalition of standards bodies to harmonize their existing data dictionaries as part of a United Nations initiative. This new data dictionary provides the technology neutral, reusable building blocks that serve as the basis for the development of messages for all lines of insurance business.
The ACORD Standards Framework
These recent activities and achievements help form the foundation for the overall ACORD Standards Framework.
Our goal is to ensure that ACORD members keep pace and improve integration and communication through the implementation of standards. The ACORD Standards Framework incorporates our existing standards for forms and messages while adding new dimensions such as business process models, business process service definitions, a single business dictionary and a single data model across all our domains.