Episode 15: Full Transcript

[00:00:00.18] BOBBIE COLLIES: I define InsurTech as where does technology intersect with the insurance industry in ways that are going to improve our efficiencies and effectiveness moving forward and, furthermore, impact the customer and agency experience in very positive ways.
[00:00:20.73] NARRATOR: This is The Insurance Technology Podcast, where we bring interesting people from across the insurance ecosystem to discuss and debate technology's impact on the industry. Join us each episode for insights and best practices from industry stewards and tomorrow's innovators. Now, here's your host, Reid Holzworth.
[00:00:40.93] REID HOLZWORTH: All right, guys, welcome back to The Insurance Technology Podcast. I'm your host, Reid Holzworth. In this episode, I'm going to be talking to Bobbie Collies. Now Bobbie, I haven't known for that long, maybe about a year or so. But Bobbie is just a really, really in-tune, smart individual within the industry. Now, Bobbie is a little bit different from the other guests in the past.
[00:01:09.20] She's not what I'd consider an OG or a founder of the industry nor is she a startup, but she is sitting within a carrier and working with all of them. And she has really interesting insights overall about the industry. And look, I mean, frankly, Bobbie's making moves. Bobbie is going to do big things in this industry. She's developing a really big network, and she's very well respected. And she lives in Wisconsin, likes to drink beer. That's pretty cool, too.
[00:01:43.28] So in this episode, we're going to be talking about where the tipping point was it InsurTech. 2015-- it's funny that we were discussing this, and it's true. Things really started to happen in '15, and she's been in the thick of it throughout that. And we're going to get an interesting perspective on her on the Gretzky analogy of following the puck, go where the puck is going, right?
[00:02:13.21] And once again, we've heard this for 40 years, but we believe it's true that the next five years in this industry are going to be totally different. This is going to be a different industry five years from now. And we get into things like better.com and what that looks like, and that experience. And buying insurance within these ecosystems without any interaction with a person, a human, an agent in that way, and the whole seamless piece of it.
[00:02:46.90] Now, a lot of this stuff's been going on in personal lines, but we're going to see it starting to happen. And if they do-- I shouldn't say that we're going to see it. We're already seeing it starting to happen in commercial lines. But five years from now, the technology is there, guys. It's going to be a different industry. So stay tuned. It's going to be a great episode. Welcome Bobbie.
[00:03:07.95] BOBBIE COLLIES: Great to be here, Reid.
[00:03:10.14] REID HOLZWORTH: It's great to have you. So Bobbie, tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into the industry? What side of the world do you live on? Yeah, let's start with the industry. How did you get into insurance and, really, insurance technology where you are today.
[00:03:27.25] BOBBIE COLLIES: Yeah, so my roots in insurance comes straight out of college. There weren't a lot of job opportunities for a girl with a marketing degree, so I took an underwriting trainee position with Society Insurance, Fon du Lac, Wisconsin. And I spent a majority of my career in commercial lines until about 2015, 2016, when the word InsurTech started to pop into our industry. And I was put on a large project for another carrier I was working with at the time to focus on what is the future of distribution look like and how does technology or how will technology impact that, and that was my big leap.
[00:04:08.43] I was in an industry for about 15 years at that point, where nothing had changed. Right before I left Society, we were still getting carbon-copied endorsement changes from some of our agents in Wisconsin. And I saw an opportunity to be able to not only participate in the change, but drive change within our industry. So it's been super exciting and a short time in the distribution in InsurTech side. It's maybe five years at this point, where I really invested in it, so it's been really fun, though.
[00:04:43.44] REID HOLZWORTH: I would say-- I mean, that's really good timing. In my mind, 2015 is really when it started to really pick up, right?
[00:04:52.05] BOBBIE COLLIES: Yeah.
[00:04:53.04] REID HOLZWORTH: You know, InsurTech has been around for-- I mean, you could argue-- 50 years or whatever, right? But really when InsurTech became a thing, it became a word, it became the events and innovation labs and all this stuff that's focusing on it, right? I mean, that's right about 2104, 2015. So you're right in the beginning of that movie.
[00:05:13.33] BOBBIE COLLIES: Yeah, well, when did you launch TechCanary, Reid?
[00:05:16.29] REID HOLZWORTH: 2013.
[00:05:18.61] BOBBIE COLLIES: 2013, yeah.
[00:05:20.46] REID HOLZWORTH: Q3 of '13 is when we went live on the AppExhange-- zero customers. So we didn't really get traction until around that time. Around '15 is when we really started ramping actually. Early days, '14 and then into '15, yeah, so right around that time.
[00:05:37.26] BOBBIE COLLIES: Yeah, I actually remember trying to get in touch with you, and you ignored me for a while. So I didn't actually get to talk to you until you're with IVANS.
[00:05:48.78] REID HOLZWORTH: Sorry about that.
[00:05:50.04] BOBBIE COLLIES: That's OK.
[00:05:53.85] REID HOLZWORTH: So that's awesome. So then, what happened? What did you learn when you-- I mean, you started your journey in that world. You've been in insurance for a while, like you said. And you--
[00:06:04.50] [INTERPOSING VOICES]
[00:06:04.86] BOBBIE COLLIES: Yeah.
[00:06:05.22] REID HOLZWORTH: --opened your eyes to this movement, if you will, right? It's fair to say.
[00:06:10.03] BOBBIE COLLIES: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. So here's the thing. If you look at a traditional carrier, the incremental change is typically what you see out of them, especially if they're producing really good results, right? So they're growing at a decent clip, maybe a little bit higher than market, loss ratios, combined ratios are good. So there's really not a huge need for them to make any drastic bold changes.
[00:06:34.50] However, one of my passions and one of the things I'm really trying to do is help, not only independent agents, but also carrier that I work for. Grange and Integrity really try to look over the horizon. And the way technology is impacting our industry and how fast things are changing, we really need to start looking at where is the puck going. If I'm going to steal from Gretzky here, like let's start to skate where the puck is going, not where it is today.
[00:07:02.62] And so, just painting that picture of-- you talk to Alan and Mike about API's and having that being the building block of our industry moving forward, and I'm trying to paint that picture for both agents and carriers alike, just to see what's going to be over the horizon. We're going to look a lot different five years from now, a lot different five years from now.
[00:07:23.58] REID HOLZWORTH: It's so true, and I truly believe that. And I've said this a lot within these podcast. We are really going through a transition right within our industry in a lot of ways, and it's so true with the way that technology is just growing and it's being implemented. And just technology, in general, how easy it is to build things these days, with all these various platforms that do different things, low code, no code, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, but just really many, many, many people being involved in modern technology within our industry is pushing it.
[00:08:00.39] And like Mike and Allan, founders have Ask Kodiak, these guys, I mean, they were ahead of their time and what they were doing. I mean, these guys are just great minds and really pushing that whole API concept. So I mean, what do you think? I say that because it's almost like a broken record, and I feel like people have been saying that for years, like, wow, things are changing. But they actually are. They really are, and the industry is really changing, and we're becoming a very tech forward industry that we haven't been.
[00:08:34.14] And if you look back at 2015, like, what? I remember in 2015 and 2014, literally, explaining to people, training people on what Salesforce was like. They had no idea. They're like, wait, what? What this thing? I don't know anything about that. That was 2015. It's not that long ago. Salesforce has been around for a long time. And API? They didn't even know what it stands for. I mean, a lot of people still don't. But they had no idea, right? Now, this stuff's really starting to happen. I mean, what are your thoughts around all that?
[00:09:04.24] BOBBIE COLLIES: Yeah, I think, Reid, a couple of things. I think to your point, more folks in our industry are trying to educate themselves and understand it because it's become a buzz word and something that's become more real versus visionary. The other piece, too, and I feel like a broken record when I say this, but the pandemic really forced our industry into being more digital. And I also think it accelerated the rate at which customers want to interact with every single thing that they do from a digital perspective.
[00:09:41.78] So as we look at changing consumer expectations, they just want to do things differently. I looked at getting a mortgage not too long ago, and when I'm better. And I was able to not only get a preapproval letter within 15 minutes, but I also got 5 insurance quotes from different companies on this house that I might buy some time, right? There wasn't even a retail agent involved in that situation, and that's what our industry. And I truly believe in that IA channel, but we have to catch up, right?
[00:10:13.34] As a non-insurance person going through that better process, I wouldn't have known what kind of coverages I needed, which is why I believe in having the agents involved. But they need to insert themselves into these digital purchasing processes in order to remain relevant moving forward, especially on the stuff that's more commoditized, like personal lines in some small commercial.
[00:10:36.02] REID HOLZWORTH: You know, it's funny, though, but we still have pushed back in this industry to things like what you just said, getting five quotes instantly, right? There's a lot of carriers out there that don't want that. They want to hold that back on being spreadsheet or whatever people want to call it. There's all kinds of new words that I hear around all this, right? But you know, it's like a rating. They don't want to be on Expedia or Google Flights, if you will. They don't want that whole experience. Why? Why do people push? I mean, you're in carriers. I mean, you're dealing-- you know this world. Why? Why is that bad, I guess, in your opinion? Is it bad?
[00:11:17.34] BOBBIE COLLIES: Reid, it's not bad. And I don't necessarily think that carriers think it's bad. But if you-- and I'm going to steal some lines from [INAUDIBLE] on this one. When he presents, he talks about all of the things that carriers need to do on an annual basis, and a lot of it is just run rate work. So if carriers are meeting their goals from a growth and profitability perspective, and they're making incremental changes towards the things that are going to make them successful moving forward, making big bold moves doesn't make sense. And it's really hard to get those types of things prioritized within a big organization, right?
[00:11:53.16] So I think, in some ways, InsurTech has really helped carriers because the work that they need to do and want to do, but can't get to, InsurTech'a are doing on their behalf. Which is great because we don't have the expertise probably or nor the boldness to be able to invest in some of these innovative things and also stack them on top of each other. You have InsurTech that are very micro focus on certain things, like Mike and Allan from Ask Kodiak is just appetite, right? Raghav and team from Tarmika, it's just small commercial comparative rating, right? They're very micro focused, and those teams are focused on making those experiences the best that they can. So how can carriers pull all of that together and utilize all of this talent without having to fund it themselves?
[00:12:44.59] REID HOLZWORTH: Yeah, no, it's--
[00:12:45.86] BOBBIE COLLIES: IDP, right? Talk about IDP a little bit and how you guys are working on that to help carriers out.
[00:12:51.63] REID HOLZWORTH: Oh, I mean, you know IDP is awesome. We feel that IDP is going to solve a lot of this friction in our industry in so many ways. And it has the potential to solve real problems. It really does, right? And it will enable guys like Raghav and the rest of them, you name them, to be more efficient at what they do and focus on those areas, where, at the same time, the carrier doesn't have to think about the pipes and maintaining all of these individual connections, right? It really opens up the ecosystem to innovation.
[00:13:22.44] But it's funny, the carriers still push back on it. They're like, I mean, we're in sales cycles every day on this thing. And they're like, yeah, I don't know. I don't really see it. I don't mind maintaining hundreds of connections and dealing with vendors coming to me every day to as you like-- no, it doesn't really save me any time. What? But you're right. If it's not broke, don't fix it.
[00:13:49.20] Shareholder value, in their minds, in the moment doesn't change. But I'll tell you. I mean, we're seeing it. We're seeing these digital carriers that are having very-- that's very awesome, streamlined digital experience. I'm not going to name names but are coming out. They're coming to market, and they're starting to play at the level of some of the big boys, right? And it's like, why wouldn't you push that and do that? And I get it. It's a lift. It's like riding the Titanic in some ways.
[00:14:22.41] The core systems are an issue. I mean, that's another one. We could go down a rabbit hole on that. I'm not going to, but we could. So there's a lot at play there. I mean, don't get me wrong. It's not that easy. But I think it's just-- I think, overall, the industry is way more open to it now, and they haven't been even in the last few years. But if you talk about commercial lines comparative rating-- I mean, look at what was originally SeaPass, and now it's Bolt. Look at what they've been doing for how many years, right?
[00:14:52.90] We have real markets, real stuff doing cool shit. And so, this is not new to our industry, but you don't hear about those guys as much. It's nothing against them. I mean, those guys are crushing it in their own way. But it's not hot, sexy, and you don't hear carriers really doubling and tripling and quadrupling down on this. Everybody talks about, hey, we're going digital. We're investing in digital, and this, that, and the other.
[00:15:21.70] But how serious are they about it? Is it like what AI and blockchain was a couple of years ago? [AUDIO OUT] I mean, when blockchain was a thing and AI, everybody standing up on stage at ITC, whatever it may be, everybody being a lot of the big tier 1's and tier 2's, and saying, we're doing this. And it's like, what? What's come of that? What's happened? What's happened with that, right? Maybe some [AUDIO OUT] internally.
[00:15:49.15] So yeah, I think it is, but it's still not. And I think, to your point, it's because it's a monster. And look, as we all run companies-- and it's true. We have to make decisions sometimes of like hey, that's opportunity cost in a lot of ways. And right now, we've got to figure out how to get our loss ratio fixed. And so, there's real problems we have to fix.
[00:16:14.93] And sometimes, it's easy for guys like me to get up on a soapbox and say, what do you mean you should be investing everything? We still have a business to run. [AUDIO OUT] So I get it, but it's just kind of funny. I went off on this tangent because what you said originally was that in five years, this industry is going to look very different. And I would argue, it's a very different industry from when you got into the InsurTech side five years ago, six years ago.
[00:16:44.68] BOBBIE COLLIES: Absolutely. Absolutely.
[00:16:46.24] REID HOLZWORTH: Now, it's like, stuff is really coming to market. I mean, I was doing some mentoring sessions yesterday, all these startups, and I literally met with three no code platforms, that I've never even heard of, focused on the carrier space in different ways, like, never even heard of them. These things are popping up everywhere in this. And so, I don't know. So what are your-- five years, what does five years look like? That's kind of a hard question to answer, but how do you think things will change in five years from now?
[00:17:20.38] BOBBIE COLLIES: Yeah. It is a little bit of a hard question to answer because I think things are changing so quickly, and it's been changing very dynamically right, Reid? Here's what I'll say. I do think that some of these more digital-focused technology first carriers will start to gain some market share. I don't know if they'll steal it from the IA channel carriers or from the direct to consumer carriers, but maybe a combination of both, right?
[00:17:49.99] A lot of them are going both ways, right? They're going direct to consumer and utilizing the IA channel. But what I do think, is that a lot of the friction will be taken out of the process, for consumers and for agencies alike. And those that do it well will be successful and continue to gain market share. And so, when I think about my role at Grange, really, it's how do I help our organization and our enterprise place the bets that where we think we're going to be successful and we want to differentiate.
[00:18:25.27] Earlier, we don't have enough resources or capital to do everything and be everything to everyone. So place our bets accordingly, where we think the InsurTechs are going to win and be able to help us gain market share. And in some ways, I think that there will be carriers out there that will be struggling and scrambling to catch up five years from now because they have had their heads in the sand a bit. And that's when I think you'll see more things happen on the carrier side. Because to my point earlier, many times things are driven by the fear of losing something versus the opportunity of gaining something, right?
[00:19:12.34] REID HOLZWORTH: There you go. That's it. You hit the nail on the head right there. Absolutely right. It's polarizing in some ways. And I think you're right, just be open to it and look at it. But we're all smart business people make smart business decisions based on that. And like you said before, it's following the puck and seeing where it's going. I say it all the time, stay away from the shiny objects. But it's hard sometimes to figure out what are the shiny objects. Like AI is cool, don't get me wrong. Blockchain, fun and cool, too, right? I hate to bring up that stuff because it's old now. People aren't talking about that anymore, right?
[00:19:56.84] BOBBIE COLLIES: Yeah, no. Next time you get Allan on a podcast, talk to him about blockchain. I love listening to him opine on that whole topic and how it was going to impact our industry. It's entertaining. If you need some entertainment for a little bit.
[00:20:14.16] REID HOLZWORTH: So how do you define InsurTech?
[00:20:18.26] BOBBIE COLLIES: I define insurer tech as where does technology intersect with the insurance industry in ways that are going to improve our efficiencies and effectiveness moving forward and furthermore impact the customer and agency experience in very positive ways, right? Because we've had technology and insurance for a really long time, like green screens and entering it. That was technology we used to do our business. But when we really think about InsurTech, to me, it's what are the technology pieces that are going to revolutionize the way we do our work.
[00:20:56.62] REID HOLZWORTH: Wow, that was great. Isn't, Bobbie awesome? It's interesting to hear when asked what's going to be the biggest impact in 2022, speaking about technology. She mentions single entry, multi-quote. That's something that's been a problem in our industry for 40 years, maybe longer, right? But she says that's going to have the greatest impact in 2022, really interesting. That means this stuff is really happening. And it's interesting for somebody, like Bobbie, to say that, who sits at a carrier day in and day out, the reason why that hasn't impacted our industry is because the carriers have pushed back for so many years.
[00:21:42.04] Look, the reality is our channel, the IA channel, needs to think about that. They need to think about the customer experience. We need to take bold moves in our industry, stop focusing on shiny objects and things, and solving real problems for the consumer. We've spent a ton of time and money automating our back end with the agency management systems and all of these great products to help with overall operational efficiency. But what about the customer experience?
[00:22:14.76] And for her to say that that's happening now, in 2022, that's next year, that's an impact on the industry. It's pretty eye-opening. So look, this stuff is coming. Adopt it. Get after it. Understand it. How are you impacting the customer experience? Really cool stuff. So look, join us next time when we discuss how value propositions need to change with adoption of technology. We're going to get deep on adoption, in general, within the agencies, right? It's really cool. Stay tuned.


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