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November 26, 2018

3 API Takeaways From Denim Summit 2018

Three perspectives: insurance carrier, independent agent channel, and insurtech startup.

API Fireside Chat

We all know APIs are all the rage in today’s tech-driven world. But not as many of us have a simple definition of what they are or a solid understanding of how they’re transforming the financial services industry. Until now.

One of the Denim Summit 2018 fireside chats provided both — from three different perspectives: insurance carrier, independent agent channel, and insurtech startup.

The chat, moderated by Denim’s CTO Charlie Turri, featured the following three industry experts:

  • Jason Andrew, Co-Founder & CEO, Limelight Health
  • Bernie Gerwel, SVP & Corporate Digital Officer, American National Insurance Company
  • Derek Hyde, CTO & SVP Business Development, Ascendia Ventures / TrustedChoice.com

To kick things off, Turri offered a simple definition of APIs by relating them to social media: “Software wants friends, and it wants to connect,” Turri said. “APIs are really the social network for software. It’s how they connect, how they share things about themselves.”

Below are three key takeaways from the panel regarding how APIs are being used to connect software in the financial services industry.

1. Think API-first.

All panelists agreed every organization — from small insurtechs to large carriers — need a solid API model to compete in the future.

“When we’re looking at insurtechs, we see better valuations in companies that are API first,” Hyde said. “There’s a lot more you can do with it. The future of an insurtech is an omnichannel approach. You don’t know where that data or that service could be plugged into. Especially in the independent agent community, the various tools and agency management systems and raters they use, if we can plug that into a new insurtech through an API, we see much better, broader use of that.”

That’s precisely why the Limelight Health team built their application API-first. “We’ve taken the approach to build from the beginning an API framework,” Andrew said. “We wanted to connect and find the pain points of the industry and make those connection points meaningful.”

Gerwel shared a similar viewpoint from a carrier perspective. “You have to have a solid API model in order to exist because I think we’re going to see fundamental product changes,” he said. “You’ve got to have an architecture that’s API-based or you’re not going to be able to compete effectively.”

2. Use APIs to improve experiences.

Whether it’s for your customers or your staff, there are a number of ways APIs are being used to create better experiences.

“Consumers want simplicity and they want, where it makes sense, consolidation,” Gerwel said. “And APIs give you the ability to do that. That’s where you have to think about APIs strategically as an insurance carrier. Where does it make sense for you to inject yourself into that consumer experience?”

TrustedChoice.com has been using APIs both internally and externally since day 1. “A lot of it is around efficiency of what we do — data collection, producing reports for internal or external usage,” Hyde said.

3. Start simple.

If you’re just getting started with APIs, don’t try to boil the ocean.

“APIs and the data set behind it don’t always have to be complicated,” Hyde said, pointing to Google’s address validation service and Twilio’s phone number validation service as examples. “They’re very simple APIs to put in place but hugely impact the quality of the data coming out of the forms you’re collecting. Little things like that can really improve that user experience and your employee experience.”

To learn more about how Denim uses APIs to create better experiences for our customers, get in touch with us today.

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