Timing is everything: Lessons from the intersection of insurance and technology

Corey Forrieter May 3, 2019


This was originally published in Insurance-Canada.ca at https://www.insurance-canada.ca/2019/05/03/apollo-timing-is-everything-lessons/

It might sound like an understatement to say that insurance has been around for a long time, but compare it with how long digital technology has been around and it would look like a peanut next to an elephant.

As with any institution that has withstood the test of time, insurance has developed a defined process for accomplishing certain tasks, and there are very specific ways that things are done. There are certain processes in place that, for good or bad, have to be accounted for.

As Apollo’s lead software developer, it’s my job to transfer those analog processes — many of them firmly ingrained — to a digital interface. Our platform is able to quote, bind, and issue policy documents on behalf of the broker, completely digitally and in real-time. That is a complex process, and when problems come up, my team has to be able to respond quickly.

Of course, that’s common in any industry. What’s important for my team is that when that work is done and that problem is solved, that it is solved forever. Every process we have has to be scalable and repeatable. The principle is applied across every application to get maximum efficiency. We never want to solve that problem again.

This is a common sentiment in programming, but less common in the world of insurance. As with any digital translation, some problems are only revealed through use and testing.

Here are two interesting glitches we found in the platform, how we found them, and how we fixed them — forever.

When in the world?

What day is May 1st?  Well, it really depends. When the platform was built, the date picker tool that the insured uses to select their coverage date to begin was set up to record a full timestamp of the transaction, including the date and the time. By default — and this is common in programming — when you save timestamps, you use a UTC format so that it’s consistent. (UTC is basically the same thing as GMT, or Greenwich Mean Time). The reason for that is because the end user’s time is going to be different depending on what region they’re in, but the system typically needs to know exactly when something happens, regardless of what timezone it happens in.

Read the full article at https://www.insurance-canada.ca/2019/05/03/apollo-timing-is-everything-lessons/

Corey Forrieter is Lead Software Developer at Apollo Insurance. He is a full stack developer with a passion for writing beautiful code. Coming from a background in the high volume world of AdTech, he has a history of building projects designed to scale and loves turning business ideas into working products.