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When you’re planning a vacation, you know you’ll be able to use your credit card to buy an Eiffel Tower souvenir in Paris, eat at your favorite churrascaria in S?o Paulo, or get cash from an ATM in Tokyo thanks to the use of global standards by banks and credit card companies.

Of course, compared with the data-intensive, multiparty insurance process, financial transactions are exceedingly simple. Additionally, the insurance needs of most consumers don’t span multiple countries and seldom are as immediate as other financial priorities. Nevertheless, there is opportunity to be gained from global development and application of standards in insurance, whether applied to make domestic operations more efficient or utilized to do business with partners and customers across a country or around the world.

Insurers also realize, despite differences in geography, markets, and products, there are many similarities that exist in processes, data, and systems that benefit from the application of common standards. “Standards have value in improving the smooth operations of the marketplace,” says Steven Coles, chief information and business improvement officer at Allianz Australia Insurance Ltd. and chair of the ACORD Australian Advisory Committee.

“In particular, we see standards having value in heavily intermediated areas,” he adds. “It’s why we’ve been an early adopter of ACORD standards and why the Australian market has looked at standards both through ACORD and other services as an enabler to make it easier to communicate.”

Standards development itself is an exercise in United Nations-type diplomacy, where colleagues and competitors come together on neutral turf within various standards-setting associations to collaborate.

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