Semsee, a leading commercial quoting platform, is bringing even more markets to its agency partners via its latest connection to the IVANS Distribution Platform. To discuss Semsee, IVANS Distribution Platform and all things straight-through processing, we sat down with Philip Charles-Pierre, chief executive officer at Semsee.
IVANS Communications: What is the value that Semsee brings to its agent and broker partners?
Philip Charles-Pierre: We enable agencies, large and small, to quickly and efficiently get commercial quotes for their clients. Semsee provides transparency on all the markets that are available, enabling agents to provide the best value-based advice to their clients about the right policies, the right carriers and the right prices. We also work with agent networks and wholesalers to bring these capabilities to broad groups of agencies. As a platform, we make the entire small commercial buying process seamless. We have a signoff we use on all our communications – happy quoting. It’s how we look at the quoting process: for agents, it should be a happy experience.
IC: As the pandemic has driven companies to adopt digital technology, are you seeing an influx of new agents or an influx of current customers quoting more online due to remote working?
PC: We've seen a couple of things: The first is our recurring agencies are using the platform to send more risks, and I think that's a sign that the small commercial businesses continue to grow and need coverage despite the pandemic, which is good to see. Two, we're seeing more new agencies join our platform. Many are through partnerships with networks and large agencies that own multiple agencies, using us to provide efficiency and help them shape their businesses across multiple agencies. The bottom line is that we’re seeing increases across the board, which we see as a positive for the entire industry.
IC: What made you decide to connect to the IVANS Distribution Platform?
PC: The IVANS Distribution Platform affords us the ability to connect with multiple carriers on behalf of our large agency base. With one connection, we’ll quickly link to a number of carriers that we didn’t have on our platform previously. This makes it more efficient for us, the carriers and it benefits our agents.
IC: Can you tell us about the benefits that your agency partners will see by Semsee connecting into the platform?
PC: Our platform has proven that agents want one place to be able to do all their quoting. This IVANS partnership gives agents more options. We are directly connected to more than a couple dozen carriers and growing, but there are an infinite number of markets and carriers out there. So why not leverage the great relationships that IVANS has so we can serve our agents with more carriers? Whether we are individually connected to that carrier doesn't really matter to the agent. What matters is they've got Semsee as the “go-to” place to quote commercial business on a daily basis.
IC: What are your thoughts around small commercial becoming digital to enable straight-through processing?
PC: If we consider other industries, those that have remained opaque have suffered with younger buyers. Younger buyers grew up with transparency and expect to get all the information they need when they’re buying things. For example, they are able to go to Zillow and Trulia before they go to their real estate agents; they're able to go to Expedia and Travelocity before they go to airline or hotel websites. They want the same thing from their insurance experiences. In their minds, if it's happening in the personal lines, why wouldn't it also happen in the commercial space?
Secondly, straight-through automation is great, but there are limits to it. I mentioned that Travelocity and Expedia work well if I need to go straight from New York to DC. However, if I want to go to three or four different cities, it is a little harder to do smartly, so I need an agent. We recently talked to small business owners, both millennials and baby boomers, in our survey and they said, overwhelmingly, that they want agents to be involved in the insurance buying process. They're asking for more agent time, not less.
The third element is that carriers should know that agents are trying to do the best for their clients. That often means agents are looking at different options and different carriers to assess what the right product and the right carrier is for their customers. What carriers need to do is focus more on how they clearly distinguish coverages so they can get the right risk at the right time.