Last year, we at Alan migrated all our French members to our shiny new in-house claim management system. It was a major operational and technical undertaking, with a lot of knowledge gained along the way. This post will cover the main technical design principles that guided the development of the new Claim Engine for France.

What does the Claim Engine do?

As your health insurance, Alans’ principal role is to reimburse your medical expenses. This is what we call Claim Management. At its core, it consists of:

  • receiving information about your claims through document uploads from members, or directly from Sécurité Sociale.
  • extracting the line items…


How to implement incremental type checking during a Hackathon in just 3 days!

Python is a duck 🦆 typed language, meaning it doesn’t verify types, it verifies the presence of methods and properties at runtime. For example, we can call my_method() on any object, and as long as the object has the method my_method, then the call will succeed.

This is both an advantage and a disadvantage:

  • 👍 It is easy to add behavior to objects without defining new types
  • 👎 It is hard to know in advance if a method call will succeed

Being duck typed implies that type…


We have the reputation of having a heavy recruitment process. As a transparent company, we’ve decided to shine more light, and clarity on it. This will allow you to understand why and what we do.

To do so, we reuse the question and answer format of this previous article.

What is the engineering hiring process at Alan?

How we hire people at Alan

At Alan, our recruitment process is designed to be global while specialised for engineers. It’s based on four main principles:

  • Objective: we have a defined set of assessments relevant to the role and backed by concrete examples.
  • Fair: we learn continuously how to evaluate, calibrate, and manage unconscious bias.
  • Transparent: our…


In general when we start mentioning the transparency at Alan, our candidates nod their heads somewhat absentmindedly, their eyes glazing over. But when we carry on to say that, in fact, everyone knows the salary of everyone else, we know we’ve definitely caught their attention. Money talks, right? Let us tell you more….

It’s not negotiable.

During the recruitment process at Alan, there is no room for negotiation when it comes to salary. You can ask early on in the process what we expect your salary might be, but that’s it. …


Writing software requires finding a good balance between competing imperatives: moving quickly, maintaining a high level of quality, taking time to focus on writing code, and spreading knowledge about our work. At Alan, we use code reviews as a tool for ensuring high quality and spreading knowledge, without introducing too much delay in our workflow.

Opening a Pull Request

We manage our code with git. We have a main branch that gets deployed to production and we work on code changes in branches. When a code change is ready, we open a pull request on Github to request that it be merged into the…


This is a “technical” post that shares insights on a very specific problem.
The content is specific to
PostgreSQL, an open-source technology for relational databases that we use (and love) at Alan.

CTEs are NOT sub-queries

CTE stands for “Common Table Expression”. They are the SQL constructs that allow you to create an “intermediary table” that you can then query later:

You may love CTEs for their readability. Processing steps are exposed linearly, in order, instead of the encapsulated vision you get with sub-queries. Names are first, like defining variables in a normal programming language…


It has been more than a year since our last article on the engineering challenges we are facing. A year is a long time for a fast pace company like ours.

We have improved our document processing, reimbursement speed, and much more. Of course those challenges are not “done”, there is still a lot to improve.

For 2020 and 2021 our goal is to build the first layers to be the personal healthcare partner, which means to:

  1. Scale our health insurance offering for companies in Europe
  2. Become the personal healthcare partner starting with narrow verticals

Here, we will focus on…


Half a year ago I joined Alan as a product designer, and it’s been a very exciting time full of new learnings. But it was also quite bewildering since everything was so completely different from what I was used to!

I was coming from a startup about the same size and age as Alan where the way of working was pretty classic. My days consisted of a few meetings: stand-ups, team syncs, presentations and design reviews. Between these meetings, I would do actual design work: sketching, producing wireframes and prototypes, and polishing the final UI.

Back to school?

My first days at Alan…


Building a new health insurance product is a tedious process. It generally involves a lot of people:

  • Sales to define a set of guarantees fitted for a client
  • Insurance and data experts to check its compliance and price it
  • Operators to configure the newly created product in claim management systems

At Alan, we designed and implemented a Product Builder that our sales can autonomously use to build, price and share a health insurance offer in a few minutes.

In this article, we will showcase the main innovations and technical challenges of our approach.

Create autonomy

Sales tool with clear UX

We strive to offer our members delightful…


Joining Alan was a different experience to what I was used to. It took me some time to fully adapt to the written-first culture and radical transparency Alan works by.

Fortunately, the onboarding process is adapted to accommodate for these novel ways of working and helped me get up to speed.

Your first days as an engineer

You arrive with a group of newcomers from various communities (engineers, sales, support…), always on a Monday morning. My first day was mainly dedicated to setting up my laptop and checking all my accounts were in order. It’s also the occasion to present yourself on Slack and get a…

Alan

Alan is your personal health partner

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