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, Author: Craig Fuher

4 Common Misconceptions About APIs

There are many misconceptions about APIs that agents may have. An application programming interface (API) may seem confusing, but it simply enables you to link data or applications together to create a better, more efficient user experience. 

“APIs are like a contract that describes how a consumer will make requests of the system, and what they will receive in return,” says Twilio, a communications company.

But because APIs tend to be more within the realm of developers and other technical professionals, rather than a mainstream type of technology, there tend to be several misconceptions about APIs.

To that point, it’s even somewhat of a misconception to say that APIs are not mainstream, because they’re constantly in use across the web. However, many people do not realize that they frequently interact with APIs. As you learn about APIs, though, you’ll start to see how simple they can be and how they can benefit your insurance business.

If you want to see how you can leverage APIs in your insurance business, we can help. Click the button below to learn more. 

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To get there, it’s important to first overcome the following four API misconceptions.

API Misconception #1: APIs Do All the Work for You 

While an API is a valuable type of technology, it’s important to remember that each API serves a specific function, rather than being an all-in-one system.

“The API acts as a middleman between any two machines that want to connect with each other for a specified task,” explains writer Thomas Davis in Towards Data Science.

In other words, APIs won’t go beyond their specific functions to perform a whole suite of work for you. APIs are not software programs or artificial intelligence applications that can take on broad areas of work. Although an API can automatically pull in data or display information from another source, even a whole host of APIs working together can’t entirely run your marketing department, for example. 

That said, APIs can still be powerful and highly useful to your business. You just need to find specific use cases that make sense for you, such as:

  • Using APIs to aggregate insurance policy quotes 
  • Incorporating your social media activity on your website
  • Finding a flight for your next business trip by comparing options from multiple airlines

API Misconception #2: You Need to Be Tech-Savvy to Use APIs

While you may have a use case for an API in mind, don’t fall into the API misconception that you have to be tech-savvy to use APIs. “You do not need to know the internal logic of the service, just send a simple command and the service will return the necessary data,” notes RapidAPI, an API platform.

In many cases, you don’t even need to set up APIs yourself to return the information you’re looking for. There’s a good chance you use APIs regularly without even realizing it. For example, if you’re looking to take a client to lunch and are looking at a map on a review site to see what looks like a good place near them, odds are that map is being displayed via an API.

Platform Integrations

Many software platforms automate API integrations, so you basically don’t have to do anything tech-related. The information might automatically get pulled into the platform, or you could simply check/uncheck boxes to select what data you want to pull. For example, insurance agents who use Wheelhouse don’t have to be tech-savvy. The platform automatically uses APIs to display quotes from multiple insurance carriers when prospects enter their information to generate quotes. 

API Misconception #3: APIs Are Only for Certain Types of Businesses

You may assume that only certain types of businesses use APIs, such as those that are in emerging areas of technology. While some tech startups might be prolific API users and/or developers, that doesn’t preclude other types of organizations, across sectors, from using or creating their own APIs.

For example, the Harvard Art Museum has their own API to allow others to showcase their art collections in other web projects.

Essentially any type of business, non-profit, government agency or even individuals can use APIs, and many do so without even realizing it. For insurance agents and carriers, this API misconception is important to break. The sooner you realize APIs can be used by anyone, the sooner you can look for ways to incorporate APIs into your own business, such as to:

  • Make your website more dynamic
  • Provide a stronger digital experience for customers
  • Analyze marketing data more easily

These are just a few of the many use cases in insurance. As you start to move away from this API myth, you may find even more API use cases that apply to your specific insurance business.

API Misconception #4: Using APIs Is Expensive

While you may be able to recognize some of the ways you want to use APIs, you might hold the misconception that doing so would be expensive. After all, the latest technologies — whether for consumer electronics like a new computer or for business needs like data center hardware — often carry a significant cost.

Yet APIs themselves are simply lines of code, so there often isn’t much cost to using APIs. In many cases, API creators want you to use their APIs for free, because doing so helps distribute their work on a wider scale. Or, a developer might create a free base model of their API and only charge for premium usage.

For example, search engines often provide free APIs for limited usage if you want to incorporate search capabilities on your website or app. But above a certain number of searches, that search engine may charge a small fee. Still, API costs tend to be quite reasonable. If you’re using the Google search API, for instance, your users can make 100 searches for free per day, and after that you’ll only be charged $5 per 1,000 queries per day (up to 10,000 searches). 

Setting Up an API

Implementing APIs does not have to be expensive either, even if you have no idea how to set one up and start using them. In many cases, API developers, as well as the platforms that enable you to use certain APIs, are willing to walk you through the set up for free. They also may offer extensive documentation on the subject to simplify setup.

So even if you have to hire a developer to set some APIs up for you, odds are you could just pay an hourly rate to a contractor for a few hours of work. After paying their rate, you then can use the API to get a good return on your investment. For example, if you use APIs to build out a more robust website that boosts your marketing, that could soon pay for itself as you convert more prospects into new insurance customers.

Start Growing With APIs

As you can see, these API misconceptions do not have to hold you back. APIs can be for any type of business, including for insurance agents and carriers, regardless of size.

As you start to use APIs, you’ll find that they can help you build a stronger online presence that leads to more sales. With Wheelhouse, you can simplify rate comparisons for your prospects, and this smooth, online experience can help you win over more prospects. All it takes is one API integration with Wheelhouse and you can expand your digital presence and grow your insurance business. 

If you’re ready to start quoting policies directly on your website or through digital channels, click the button below to learn how you can get started. 

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