We recently sat with EMPLOYERS Client Relationship Manager and Product Owner for API Distribution Strategy and Development Basilios Manousogiannakis to discuss:
- Advancements in distribution solutions
- Working with customers where they do business
- The importance of data driven insights
IVANS Communications: IVANS has relentlessly supported and is committed to finding answers to critical questions within the insurance industry. IVANS Market Appetite is focused on providing an instantaneous answer to agencies on which insurer or MGA partner is best aligned for their client risks. The results of what we’ve built is a network platform of agencies, MGAs, program administrators and insurers, specifically aligned to answer those questions. Agencies are able to access Market Appetite for free, available in a standalone website as well as built within multiple agency management systems right within their workflows.
We are excited about agency adoption and traction. Our growth has been extraordinary and we are humbled by it. We have more than 15,000 agencies representing over 150,000 unique users. Those users request insights around the best insurers, MGAs, or wholesalers over 6 million times a month. These figures are astounding when we think back to just a few years ago when we were excited to be hitting 150,000 requests for insurer recommendations in a year. Since January 2019, we’ve helped place over 170,000 new commercial policies with a premium value of over $730 million. This wouldn’t be possible without having strong insurer partners providing the products through the platform. These insurers represent some of the strongest and fastest growing markets available to the independent agency channel.
One of the key value propositions for both the agent and the insurer side of IVANS Markets is really the extension of the insurer into the workflow of the agency where historically it has been reversed. Can you talk about what that means to EMPLOYERS and your own strategies as it relates to the independent agency channel?
Basilios: Our agents continue to be at the core of distribution and because of that, we take their feedback very seriously. We spend considerable time with our agency partners to understand their workflows, seeing what is working and where they are getting stuck, as well as what can we improve upon to help shape a better relationship with them but also help our own strategic priorities and tactics. We want to help them improve their profit margin. When you think about legacy processes and the things that occur in that triaging of markets, helping agencies increase revenue and really reducing friction or expense is critical.
An area of feedback that we consistently hear year over year is a desire for us to meet them within their workflows or as we like to say, meeting our customers where they want to do business. We have a desire to be omnichannel. Agents are getting that experience in their personal buying experiences like working with their bank, so a lot of what we invest our time and resources in is based on what our agents are telling us. This is why we invested and partnered with IVANS on Market Appetite along with other agency-facing technologies. I have lost count at this point but we’ve rolled out over 18 agency-facing solutions to help our agency partners based on their feedback.
Another piece for us at EMPLOYERS is that it really helps shape our strategic priority. If you think about EMPLOYERS as a whole, we were just a state fund 20 years ago. Ten years ago we were only in 30 states. Now we are in all 46. That’s a pretty rapid expansion. It is important to us as we continue to scale to have consistent communication and education with our agency partners. When we look at what COVID has done to the traditional sales model for a carrier, you can look at Market Appetite serving as a virtual marketing rep, reminding the CSR or account manager when they are actively working a new business account or renewal that “hey we have interest in this” or “this may not be an area that we’ll play in, but you have other options there.” Really going back to meeting our customers where they’re transacting business.
The final part I would like to highlight is that, based on demographic trends, we expect considerable departures of seasoned professionals in the near- to mid-term, as they retire from the insurance industry. That workforce has a ton of knowledge. The challenge we are hearing from our agency partners is, “how do we transfer that knowledge to our younger employees?” Some of that knowledge older workers take with them is carrier relationships and carrier appetite. What Market Appetite allows us to do is transfer that knowledge in a soft way, and it’s also an expectation set and behavior set that these younger generations of employees are having. They’re Googling and searching for things online as part of their personal shopping process, and they often fully expect to use a similar approaches in their professional life. So when we think about looking for markets, we’re empowering those agents while removing a ton of what has been a frictional process for them.
IVANS Communications: Touching on that last point, the expectation is that the information is available when and where it is wanted, which I think is one of the foundational ideas of Market Appetite. We couldn’t be happier to have EMPLOYERS as part of our offering to the independent agency channel. Thank you so much for your partnership there.
IVANS works very closely with our insurer partners. One of the things they have taught us over the last couple of years is that there are additional insights that are incredibly valuable that IVANS can provide as part of the solution.
A key question initially when a new partner joins Market Appetite is, “How many agents do I reach and how often do I reach them?” We have those conversations and the analytics to show that information. We have noticed that the questions then evolve to, “How do I grow and how do I expand? Where are the opportunities in the industry? Who are the distribution partners I should be considering? What classes might I be missing out on or is there room to expand?” So Market Appetite has shifted an enormous amount of value to the distribution side to understand where opportunities are and address insurers’ questions like, “Can I load up all the classes? Can I see which ones I already have a strong presence in, and then see which ones have room to grow or which ones I might be reaching the point of understanding that I'm fully saturated in that area?" Analytics is a very powerful capability that is coming to life in Market Appetite.
An area that we’re focused on this year is building it within Indio. For people who know Indio, it is the industry’s premier data capture solution. Expect the integration with Indio in early 2021. We are also building our capabilities within the IVANS Commercial Lines Submission Platform, which is being developed now. One other thing that has been fun is that we continue to work closely with our insurer partners on their own API development, so as insurers innovate, we innovate with them.
With access to data insights through IVANS Markets, businesses are able to make more informed decisions that help them grow.