Sometimes an idea for a new business venture develops over time.
Other times it happens pretty quickly.
For Matt Aaron, the idea for Insurance Agent came after he witnessed a minivan hit a tree on Providence Road.
Aaron thought, if that had been him, he would not have known the best way to get in touch with his insurance agent.
And he would not have been alone. Large insurance companies (State Farm, Allstate, etc.) and direct insurers (Progressive, Geico, etc.) may have well-built smartphone applications and provide an excellent user experience. But independent insurance agents are not there yet.
Policyholders have voiced frustration about being unable to make simple requests from their smartphones.
“When I talked to an agent about a smartphone presence, he said, ‘I’d love to, but don’t have the time, money or resources to do that,’” Aaron explained.
He has spent years working in media sales, but Insurance Agent co-founder Kiki Johnson brought years of startup experience to the equation. Together, they saw a chance on the mobile side to create a product that could benefit independent insurance agents. They also consulted companies that wanted to support their distribution channel and the policyholder.
“From day one, we architected a mobile app that we licensed to insurance agents,” Aaron said. “Independent agents comprise about two-thirds of the insurance market. Each agent may represent up to 50 insurance companies. There’s a big complexity in movement of data. We saw an opportunity to fill a void on the mobile platform. We had as much experience as anyone else did.”
How Does It Work?
The Insurance Agent app has been available to license since 2012.
Agencies can license the app for a fee that is dependent on integration needs, total number of employees and total number of office locations.
Agents provide policyholders with login information. The policyholders can download the Insurance Agent app and through a personal login can gain access to their agent and policy information.
“Within the independent distribution channel, we’re recognized as the go-to for app development,” Aaron said.
Right now, Insurance Agent has licensed its product to 500 agents nationwide and hopes to hit 1,000 by the end of the year.
“Our focus is on the North American market, but we get inquiries from South America and Africa,” Aaron said.
Insurtechs are on the rise. For the past few years, companies like Insurance Agent have been entering the insurance sector to create efficiencies for a more digitally savvy customer base.
Not unlike fintechs in banking, the initial focus of the insurtechs has been on the retail segment. Case in point, 75 percent of insurtech business is in serving retail clientele, with the remainder in the commercial segment. (Source: McKinsey, 2017.)
But Aaron noted the many complexities in the insurance industry. Specifically, he explained how regulations vary from state to state and how data is transferred.
“Each state has its own regulations which creates a tremendous amount of complexity within the industry,” Aaron said.
Aaron notes that the next play for Insurance Agent could be in data movement.
“Insurance has been described as a glacier moved by rivers of money,” Aaron said. “There’s an opportunity to become a service platform and bring some cohesiveness to this multi-billion dollar business.”