Episode 7: Full Transcript

[00:00:00.00] [MUSIC PLAYING]
[00:00:00.57] DAVID ROWE: Well, there's all kinds of investments going into artificial intelligence, big data, et cetera, but I really come back to the APIs.
[00:00:10.17] What's happening is that the whole intertek momentum is spawning so much innovation. So many other ideas, all of which are sort of a small scale. Something needs to be able to put them all together to create a greater value than anyone individually. In APIs, we have the potential to do that.
[00:00:29.99] SPEAKER 2: 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.
[00:00:45.27] Now, here's your host, Reid Hallsworth.
[00:00:50.03] REID HALLSWORTH: Welcome back, everyone to the Insurance Technology Podcast. I'm your host, Reid Hallsworth. In this episode, we're meeting back with David Rowe, once again. If you didn't listen to the previous episode, you should. David is just a wealth of knowledge.
[00:01:05.24] But in this episode, we're going to talk about the tech trends that he sees really impacting the industry. And what he's working on today within insurance and insurance technology. And we're also going to learn now what does David do for fun?
[00:01:19.87] What does he do when he's not talking insurance, which he's basically dedicated his life to. So really good stuff. Stay tuned. It's going to be a great episode.
[00:01:31.09] I met with the carrier last weekend and we were out, had a couple of cocktails. And literally they said, hey, what do you think? Should I double down and invest however many tens of millions in our portal right now? Or should I open it up and invest in an API?
[00:01:47.43] And I'll tell you, there's a lot of carriers that are out there that are really proud of their portals. And I will say too, some of them that have had amazing portals have really scaled their business because of it in [INAUDIBLE].
[00:02:02.65] Like seriously, I'm going to name names, but they have tremendously. And so what are your thoughts on that topic right now?
[00:02:12.45] DAVID ROWE: Well, I think for those carriers that have a great relationship with their agency base and have been able to market this to them and they have a great loyalty, the portal's work has been efficient.
[00:02:23.46] It's hard to argue against some of the efficiencies it's maintained. I do see a trend toward APIs. And it's not just happening from the portal out to the agents. Inside the carrier itself, there used to be a monolithic system for the policy, the billing and the claims capability across the lines of business.
[00:02:46.62] It was a sweet type situation. What's happening is that's getting broken up now. It initially started out as best of breed then it went to suit. We could buy a different system for policy or billing claims and different vendors. But then it went, over the last 10 years, towards suite.
[00:03:03.39] Now you're seeing things being broken up into microservices. With this advent of intratech type investments, no, an appetite streiner, a rating model of forms capability, and underwriting workstation. Not any one carrier vendor can invent all those things.
[00:03:21.18] So they're opening up their architecture to add value with APIs out to best of breed little microservices that maybe in vendors that are supporting them. That's carrying over into the agency marketplace as well. And so APIs are important.
[00:03:37.46] A comparative rating which-- It really got implemented in the 80s. AMS was very strong in the comparative rating market. Never really was allowed in the commercial lines area because it was going to commodity's commercial lines insurance and no one wanted to really do that. Personal lines one that way.
[00:04:04.24] What's happening now in comparative rating is it is happening in small commercial lines and a couple of other commercial lines as well. But when you think of it, it's almost like the problem I had almost 40 years ago.
[00:04:17.64] Each of these comparative rating vendors have to now interact with and interpret APIs differently for each of the different carriers to get into their real time portal or rating engine or whatever it might be.
[00:04:29.65] So here's another opportunity where scale can come about. And that's where I see of IVANS playing a tremendous, tremendous role. One is adding value again by being an API intermediary for the industry for all these other components.
[00:04:46.02] And in fact, I'd love to see not just handling a comparative rating, I could see certificates of insurance. But really going back to that old APT idea, how do you handle a way to extend company [INAUDIBLE] data in an efficient way?
[00:05:01.45] It could be that some of that logic that we had an APT could be an IVANS type entity to break through the upload type problem that is the [INAUDIBLE] the upload straight through processing type problem. I see IVANS situated very well there.
[00:05:18.51] I think that Read French made a brilliant move when acquired IVANS. I think that Taylor Rhodes has been fantastic with the strategy to open it up. And I think with you leading it, I can see a great chance for IVANS to get that big V back in the middle of it and make a huge contribution to the industry.
[00:05:37.05] REID HALLSWORTH: Well, that's the goal. And that's what we're doing. And what you're talking about is literally what we're working on. It's such a problem in the industry because of all this carrier of unique information. And frankly there's just no connectivity within the industry. We want to solve that.
[00:05:52.89] As you know, we just launched the distribution platform literally to solve this on the submission side. And just like you said, by opening this up. And it is interesting what you said, the carriers are opening up, the policy administration systems are opening up, the agency management systems are opening up. We know that. And now IVANS is opening up.
[00:06:17.58] DAVID ROWE: And speaking of opening up, you've actually led me to the point, which is the most important one, keeping IVANS itself position from a branding point of view, open and neutral. And I have to applaud the fact that you are there and that Taylor has done what he's done, is position this in a trusting open way.
[00:06:35.98] It's the only way that it's going to reach its full capability to serve the industry is to be open and be neutral. The same way that I applaud the founders of AMS, the commercial unions and the CNA keeping it open for the good of the industry and not being a proprietary solution.
[00:06:54.69] REID HALLSWORTH: Yeah, 100%. And that's what we're doing. It only works that way. And it's just so interesting what you're talking about is still so relevant today. And these are still real problems that we need to solve in our industry. But what are your thoughts? I see it actually happening now.
[00:07:14.11] When we talk about all of this, everything that you've done in your career, do you see this really happening now or is it can revert back to portal's or something else? I don't know.
[00:07:25.17] DAVID ROWE: Well, one of the precursors, I was just on another call a while ago, and rating is a topic that's almost a precursor to-- If you're in the policy administration business, rating becomes one of the first things you do.
[00:07:39.27] If you're an agent's office, the comparative rating is one of the first thing you do. I think rating is the tip of the spear to touch this issue. And the fact that you're seeing some of the very successful comparative rating shopping market type companies actually look at IVANS to minimize the multiplicity of all these APIs interfaces.
[00:08:02.88] That that's going to go there. I think that you're going to see certificates go there. And I'd love to see APT type activity. That ability to have some way to collect company data and propagate it down to the agency in an efficient way. You're a natural to be able to do this. So I think the rating is leading the way here.
[00:08:24.75] REID HALLSWORTH: And we have a huge database of all of those attributes. But standing it up, opening it up, and allowing others to connect to it, it's an interesting thing. It really could drive a lot of value back.
[00:08:41.73] I think it hasn't happened in the past because people haven't taken the time to do that, have that, to go through that big of a lift if that's even a word. But to really go through the work of getting that done. And then like you said, having the relationships, the connectivity to actually be able to deliver it to all the vendors and everybody in the ecosystem. It's hard.
[00:09:08.19] DAVID ROWE: There's a more manageable number of players. In my day, there were 50 plus agency vendors. There's a more manageable number of players that can be brought together to try to deal with this issue.
[00:09:20.61] REID HALLSWORTH: Yeah. Let's go back a little bit in history. So when you were at AMS, CNA, CNA is AMS, who are some of the people that you worked with there that are still very active in the industry or have done big things in the industry? Names that people would know because I feel like I know a lot of you guys and there is a lot of people connected together that are still very relevant in insurance and insurance technology today.
[00:09:51.93] DAVID ROWE: Well, some of the names obviously Dennis [INAUDIBLE]. He was a great, great champion and he'd been very much involved with TechCanary with you and I. So Dennis [INAUDIBLE] is once in a lifetime kind of person.
[00:10:09.63] Another person that was outstanding who we acquired was Doug Roller who had created micro magic who went on to become the creator of Duck Creek. It is very-- and Larry Wilson still very active in the industry and initially the founder of PMS. Those are some of the kind of names that I--
[00:10:31.71] Jim Hackbarth was the president of APT. And he was such a trusted person. Between Applied and AMS, we found who can we have the leader of an entity that we both can talk to, right? It was Jim Hackbarth. And Jim came and moved to Chicago and did that. And now he's the head of Assurex.
[00:10:58.17] REID HALLSWORTH: Yeah, Jim is awesome. Love Jim. Who doesn't love that guy like seriously? If there's anybody listening now that doesn't like Jim Hackbarth, just don't listen anymore.
[00:11:07.98] DAVID ROWE: But those are some names that come to mind.
[00:11:10.38] [LAUGHTER]
[00:11:13.61] REID HALLSWORTH: Well, that's awesome. So let's switch topics a little bit. What technology do you see having the biggest impact? You kind of already mentioned it, but what do you see being the most impactful for our industry now or in the near future? You can name names, you don't have to.
[00:11:36.07] It can be, in theory, I could see this happening. What are your thoughts there?
[00:11:41.66] DAVID ROWE: Well, there's all kinds of investments going into artificial intelligence, big data, et cetera. But I really come back to the APIs. What's happening is that the whole intertek momentum is spawning so much innovation, so many other ideas, all of which are sort of a small scale.
[00:12:06.41] Something needs to be able to put them all together to create a greater value than anyone individually. And APIs have the potential to do that. So this evolution of microservices is combined with the intertek microservice companies coming about is creating new kinds of value.
[00:12:26.03] But there's got to be some way to tie them together with their other enterprise systems for the agent and the carrier. So I really look forward to that as something that have a real short term kind of benefit.
[00:12:37.19] REID HALLSWORTH: Yeah, I would agree. It's connecting everything together right now. And then once connected, it's going to be really interesting to see the things that come out after that. People are going to be really be able to build some really interesting products.
[00:12:53.18] DAVID ROWE: Exactly.
[00:12:54.37] REID HALLSWORTH: That said. And I think it could change the way that insurance is transacted in a lot of ways. If you really dive deep in there-- We can talk about this for hours, but it would really affect change in a good way.
[00:13:07.69] DAVID ROWE: Because also many creative solutions that are being developed that I've never would have imagined, but now can be played with. The more traditional policy administration or agency management systems to create something that's really, really, really good.
[00:13:24.57] REID HALLSWORTH: So how about you? What are you working on now? What do you have going on? I know you, David, you're an animal. You're still deep in the industry, what are you working on? What's going on now?
[00:13:40.79] DAVID ROWE: Well, I'm still on a number of boards. If I had to take maybe the largest one that I'm involved with that has been very enjoyable is Insurity. That's a policy administration vendor. And they've been making a number of acquisitions lately.
[00:13:56.31] You can say, well, that helps the company grow increased their available market. And all that's great. What I have been really having the best experience with is the way their culture has been improved by the acquisitions they've made, which I really attribute to Chris Fine, the CEO, and also Travis Pearson, the head of GI Partners that own Insurity.
[00:14:19.13] They brought in a number of these different assets to extend the company into the MGA market into data, a number of different inter payments. And all of those people that have come in are now key leaders inside the-- They haven't left or been consolidated. They're the key leaders of the company.
[00:14:37.64] So seeing a big company transform in a way, they're doing a lot of acquisition and organic growth too, but open to everybody participating has been really good. On the other side of it, I'm involved in kind of a growth company that's in the area of certificates of insurance.
[00:14:55.53] This is led by Kristen Nunnery out in Indianapolis called myCOI. And this was interesting to me because their customer, though they work with brokers and carriers, are the actual contractors cetera, the actual retail customer. So it's almost another level of the pyramid to reach. And that's interesting.
[00:15:13.22] And Kristen's a great leader. So there's a whole span of interesting ideas. I'm really interested in trying to help serve the industry with new innovation.
[00:15:26.27] REID HALLSWORTH: Yeah, Kristen's awesome. And I've known her for a while and she's really crushing it with that company. And it's interesting. I can see a lot of growth there. Insurity, what a great company. We're doing a lot with Insurity right now at IVANS. I don't know if you know that, but [INAUDIBLE] a lot with most of policy admins, but more so with Insurity.
[00:15:46.67] They've kind of reached out to us and said, hey, what can we do better together. And so we're kind of batteries included within some of the Insurity products connected to IVANS. They want to really help with that connectivity. So that's been really awesome. I've gotten to know them pretty well through that and really, really great company.
[00:16:08.12] That's awesome. So you're still working on some big things, doing your thing as usual. So that's pretty awesome. So in your opinion, what tech influencers should I talk to next? Who should I interview next?
[00:16:23.15] DAVID ROWE: Thinking about this interview we were going to do, this is the one that I thought about probably the most. And I'm going to give you two pairs of answers. They're going to be totally different.
[00:16:35.39] If I really had to say who I want to sit down for an hour with. It would be Larry Wilson and Rob Thompson, the guys that started it all. Larry is still involved in the industry. He's been very, very successful. Rob left the industry, but he's totally brilliant.
[00:16:53.39] Without the two of them setting this foundation that you could have a policy information system using one data model across all lines of business isolate the company uniquenesses, nothing else could have flown. We could have had any other new generation policy system, agency management system.
[00:17:10.52] We could have gone down a path of 30 different approaches for every kind of accord form that we have. They're the ones who really set the stage. Anything I did in AMS was derivative of the thinking that they had.
[00:17:26.52] And so in terms of going back a little bit in time, those would be two interesting interviews. But I thought that you'd want somebody who's at the head of the pack right now, two other people who I respect their thinking. So I'll give you two names.
[00:17:45.14] One is Max Drucker who's the head of COPYDATA.
[00:17:48.08] REID HALLSWORTH: Oh, yeah. I know Max.
[00:17:49.67] DAVID ROWE: One of the things that he's realizing, and this gets to even a level beyond that company data thing we talked about, all of a sudden this all kinds of unstructured data that can be captured from social networking. And all kinds of demographic information beyond loss history, for instance. And putting that together in a way that helps underwriting is a unique idea.
[00:18:16.73] And I think Max understands that in the context of really how to do better underwriting, how to do better policy issuance. And he's really built a fast moving company [INAUDIBLE].
[00:18:29.60] REID HALLSWORTH: Like rocket ship faster.
[00:18:32.36] DAVID ROWE: think he's if you haven't talked to him, I would encourage. He's an interesting person.
[00:18:36.83] REID HALLSWORTH: Yes, I know him.
[00:18:38.09] DAVID ROWE: And the other one who I know you know, we both know, is Ilya Bodner of Bold Penguin. And obviously he's been very successful in establishing commercial information, quoting, comparative quoting, small business, et cetera.
[00:18:55.29] But I think to talk to him, I want to go for two different things. What's his view of the API issue? Can we actually normalize APIs across all the different players? With IVANS playing a role, he would be a key insight on that.
[00:19:10.44] And the other one is, he's there having to collect information, think of it, across multiple carriers for a certain line of business. And then he has to drop that off to be able to get the issuance done. Usually systems like this will just create 80% of the transaction and turn you over into the portal to finish the rest.
[00:19:29.72] There's ways that can be buffered to make that not look like it's 20% company in new terminal or a 20% unique portal. He's right at the edge of that issue. And if you are starting to look at that issue inside IVANS, the ATT type issue, I think he would have a dual perspective of how do I clear that last hurdle of masking what's happening at the company portal inside a single entry form and as well as handling the API in a way you'd have to do it differently for every rating and agency management vendor.
[00:20:02.18] I think he has a lot two sides of that issue.
[00:20:06.32] REID HALLSWORTH: No, he absolutely does. And I know him really well. It's not public yet, but it'll be coming out soon. Press release hasn't gone. By the time this goes out, the press release would be out. But Bold Penguin just signed up for the IVANS distribution platform as one of our partners.
[00:20:20.63] And people say, why would they do that? And the same thing same thing with [INAUDIBLE]. I don't if you know Phillip, awesome guy as well. Anyways, I'm sure you know Phillip.
[00:20:30.14] Anyways, it's interesting because it was kind of something that gave these guys a competitive edge having more inventory. But it's not worth the cost and the headache of doing it now. And as soon as a carrier is releasing that API, they're not just giving it to one. They're giving it to everybody.
[00:20:49.52] So it becomes somewhat of a commodity to them. And so he does have an interesting view. And I actually just spoke on a panel with him a couple of days ago on that topic specifically. And so he does have some pretty big insights there. An interesting guy too. A lot of people don't know he is part of Route as well.
[00:21:07.07] DAVID ROWE: Yes.
[00:21:07.64] REID HALLSWORTH: Safe Harbor, he's part of Safe Harbor in the beginning.
[00:21:10.22] DAVID ROWE: And Colombus, right?
[00:21:11.42] REID HALLSWORTH: Yeah. Safe Harbor got bought by ITC maybe?
[00:21:17.60] DAVID ROWE: Yeah. Part of the company did, yes.
[00:21:20.57] REID HALLSWORTH: Yeah. Right. So anyways, that's awesome. And you know, it's funny because I interviewed Dennis and he brought up Rob and Larry as well.
[00:21:35.46] DAVID ROWE: Really?
[00:21:36.08] REID HALLSWORTH: Yeah, 100%. So that was pretty cool. So we'll definitely go there. And Max is a very interesting dude. I think people would really like to hear from Max because he's got a lot to say around all of that. So those are some good ones, man. I appreciate it.
[00:21:53.39] So, all right, for the listeners, what do you do for fun? What does David do for fun outside of developing accord standards and what not [INAUDIBLE] three?
[00:22:03.65] [LAUGHTER]
[00:22:04.94] DAVID ROWE: I go running and now I live by walking and running. I fish. I'm starting to play golf again. I do a little photography. But really most of my time is I'm the father of eight children and seven grandchildren. And that's the most fun. And so it leaves me a little bit of time to still try to innovate a little bit and serve the industry.
[00:22:26.51] REID HALLSWORTH: That's busy then, wow. That's a lot. Well, thank you, David. That was really great. You're an amazing human. I've known you for a long time. And whenever your name comes up, I always say, just what a great person. And I'm just blessed to know you man, seriously.
[00:22:45.32] DAVID ROWE: Thank you very much you for saying that.
[00:22:47.72] REID HALLSWORTH: You've done a lot for the industry and you continue to do a lot for the industry. So thank you for everything you've done. Everybody loves you that knows you. I appreciate you, David.
[00:22:58.52] DAVID ROWE: Thank you. Wow, that was awesome. David is the man. Look, he's been in this industry for over 4 decades. Still staying relevant on the board of myCOI and Insurity. He is doing amazing things for those organizations.
[00:23:13.37] And he's done such amazing thing for our industry, literally at the birth of AL3 from the very beginning. So what an honor it was to have David as a guest on our show. If you see him out there, shake his hand. This is an awesome human being and I'm just really blessed to know him.
[00:23:34.67] So it's also interesting that he recommended some of the same people that David did like Rob Johnson, Larry Wilson. So Rob and Larry, I'm coming for you. So stay tuned for future episodes where hopefully they'll be guests.

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