Americans have been able to buy car insurance online for 22 years. Consider that for a minute: that is 10 years longer than the iPhone has existed.
This development had a dramatic impact on the auto insurance market: Within 7 years, in 2005, Geico had moved up to #4 in national market share, compared to #8 in 1995. It was a massive move in an otherwise stable market.
Commercial insurance is another story. Small businesses have been able to buy commercial insurance online for nearly 10 years. The first direct web-based portal for small business customers with real-time quoting and binding was launched in 2010 by Hiscox USA, and while the business has grown very nicely, it hasn’t had nearly the effect on the commercial market that the gecko had in auto.
Why the difference? People will claim that small commercial is significantly more complicated than personal auto. Perhaps, but not in the obvious sense: developing an underwriting model for personal auto is just as complex, maybe more so.
The difference is in the complexity of the marketplace. Different clients have different needs. Carriers have different appetites. It’s pretty hard for a small business to know which carriers specialize in which classes of business, and it’s almost impossible to satisfy all your risk transfer needs in one place. For example, E&O insurers typically don’t offer Commercial Auto or Workers’ Compensation insurance. As such, the direct business model has its challenges. It’s a difficult market to navigate if you don’t live in it. Hence, the need for a trusted advisor: the independent insurance agent.
The good news is that carriers have embraced the digitization challenge. Insurers are building tools that allow partners to communicate directly with carrier servers, thereby accessing underwriting models. The result is real-time insurance, and this is a great first step. The trouble however, is that there are a lot of agencies out there who still won’t access the models because integrating an API can be pretty daunting. Integrating multiple APIs, from multiple carriers, all of which require payloads in different formats and ask similar questions using different language, is pretty hard. Almost impossible, in fact, without a fairly sophisticated development team.
This is where Briza comes in. We do the heavy lifting, integrating carrier APIs into our platform and making them easily available to licensed commercial agencies. We are here to make agencies better, faster, and more efficient. We are here to help people turn their businesses into the agencies of the future.