This article is part of Carrier Management’s series on the Future of Insurance.

Mike Albert, Co-Founder, Ask Kodiak, sees some disrupters working around commercial insurance carriers instead of with them as he takes a look into the future for Carrier Management.

Mike AlbertMike Albert, Co-Founder, Ask Kodiak
Mike Albert is the Co-Founder of Ask Kodiak, a startup building a new platform for commercial P/C distribution. https://www.askkodiak.com/
According to the company’s LinkedIn page, Ask Kodiak is kind of like Kayak.com for commercial insurance. Brokers get a really simple (and totally free) way to search for eligible carrier markets. Carriers get a digital marketing platform that gives them some unique analytics about what agents and brokers are searching for and some easy-to-use tools to feature their products.
Albert has served in senior leadership roles in product and strategy in nearly two decades of P/C insurance industry experience. He has worked with carriers of all sizes leading teams that have built software for agents, underwriters and policyholders. He specializes in the art of application design and user engagement experience.

Q: What major changes do you see on the horizon for the property/casualty insurance industry in the next 10 years?

Albert (Ask Kodiak): Change is on the horizon for the insurance industry, and it’s coming in the form of new kinds of coverage for new kinds of risk in both personal and commercial lines.

In personal lines, this means low-friction, time-of-need purchasing and more on-demand coverage. Big innovations in commercial lines will include the emergence of innovative new structures meant to bear risk in lieu of and in addition to traditional insurers.

In commercial insurance, we are now more likely to observe innovators going around traditional carriers instead of working with them. Limitations imposed by those carriers, some technical (e.g., the absence of business partner APIs), some procedural (e.g., onerous underwriting questionnaires), create too many constraints for those seeking to do something inventive or streamlined on the distribution side. Even though many write very standard lines, we see entrepreneurial companies in distribution setting up businesses that are more like MGAs, so as to have more complete control of the underwriting and pricing process for the products they’re marketing.

Capacity is a commodity, and these businesses demonstrate that. While traditional E&S players and even some U.S. carriers are providing it for this first generation of digital players, opportunities will emerge for new businesses designed for the sole purpose of bearing risk and delegating it to digital partners.

As business models continue to evolve, brokers and startups alike are beginning to cut out legacy carriers so that they can innovate in how products are underwritten and distributed. We’ll see more online everything and a much more difficult and competitive marketplace in which to build brand equity.

Q: What will insurance companies, insurance leaders, the industry and its workforce look like in the next decade? What risks will they insure? How will insurance products and services be distributed? (Feel free to focus on one of these aspects of change or several.)

Albert (Ask Kodiak): In terms of technology, the industry has flip-flopped between a preference for best-of-breed and suite solutions for decades. In spite of recent leanings toward the latter, the monolithic core system is destined to fall back out of favor as carriers embrace the flexibility and agility enabled by best-of-breed.

For carriers, a more competitive environment will drive an increasingly diverse workforce and less promotion-by-attrition.

“Distribution and customer experience will be headlined by technology, but the category standouts will back up tech with human touch and expertise in elegant and efficient ways.”
Recruiting and retaining talent will remain an issue for insurers, especially with the lure of InsurTech startups drawing away creative personalities. Carriers actively engaging InsurTech will see those efforts pay off, while those not seeking influence outside the home office walls will struggle with organic growth.

The industry has plenty of room for new players in distribution and underwriting. Digital distribution + AI + big data + investor interest in the space will give rise to a new generation of specialized participants.

No one company will “win” insurance. Distribution and customer experience will be headlined by technology, but the category standouts will back up tech with human touch and expertise in elegant and efficient ways.

Read more Future Insights by person

  1. Mike Albert, Co-Founder, Ask Kodiak
  2. Tim Attia, CEO and Co-Founder, Slice Labs, Inc.
  3. Arun Balakrishnan, CEO, Xceedance
  4. Ilya Bodner, CEO, Bold Penguin
  5. Bobby Bowden, Executive Vice President, Chief Distribution and Marketing Officer, Allied World
  6. Andy Breen, Senior Vice President, Digital, Argo Group
  7. Adam Cassady, CEO, Tyche Risk
  8. Chris Cheatham, CEO, RiskGenius
  9. Trent Cooksley, Head of Open Innovation, Markel Corporation
  10. Mike Foley, CEO, Zurich North America
  11. Guy Goldstein, Co-Founder and CEO, Next Insurance
  12. Mike Greene, CEO & Co-Founder, Hi Marley
  13. Brian Hemesath, Managing Director, Global Insurance Accelerator
  14. Russell Johnston, CEO, QBE North America
  15. Dr. Henna Karna, Managing Director and Chief Data Officer, XL Catlin
  16. Tony Kuczinski, President and CEO of Munich Re, US
  17. Rashmi Melgiri, Co-Founder, CoverWallet
  18. David W. Miles, Co-Founder and Managing Partner, ManchesterStory Group
  19. Pranav Pasricha, CEO, Intellect SEEC
  20. Mike Pritula, President, RMS
  21. Kathleen Reardon, CEO, Hamilton Re
  22. Jeff Richardson, Senior Vice President, OneBeacon Insurance Group
  23. Vikram Sidhu, Partner, Clyde & Co
  24. Christopher Swift, CEO, The Hartford
  25. Rebecca Wheeling Purcell, Schedule It
  26. Keith Wolfe, President US P/C—Regional and National, Swiss Re