Executive Interview - 9 of 15
This article is part of a series of interviews with InsurTech Executives involved in the distribution of property/casualty insurance about their missions, how they are changing the industry, and the implications for carriers.View All Interviews
There is a good reason that Peter MacDonald, CEO and Co-Founder of Wunderite believes in the independent agent value chain. He lived in their world for almost a decade.
“I would meet with my clients and take them through a really painful process every year—asking them for PDFs and Excel spreadsheets, and [then] emailing them to all my favorite underwriters,” only to see all that data die in the inbox, he said, speaking on a videotaped elevator pitch published on Wunderite’s website.
Representing on the 15 InsurTechs to Watch recently contacted by Carrier Management, MacDonald emailed these responses to questions about his firm’s mission to move agents’ tools forward and to help them trash pen-and-paper once and for all.
1. Describe your company and its mission. What does the company do?
Peter MacDonald, CEO and Co-Founder, Wunderite: Wunderite, the name, is a portmanteau of the German “Wunder” (miraculous) and “underwrite” (the term invented when financiers would physically sign their name below a ship’s manifest, posted at a Lloyd’s of London tea shop, to indicate they would support and take a stake in the voyage).
Too often, insurance is seen as either faceless corporation, branded cartoon figure, or a necessary evil. We want to bring the wonder back to insurance. Insurance is community good and a structural lubrication that facilitates enterprise and risk-taking.
We want insurance agents and underwriters to love their jobs again.
Formally, Wunderite is a data exchange that seeks to bring efficiency to the insurance marketplace, transparency to stakeholders, and actionable insight to decision makers.
2. Who does your technology serve? (Agents and brokers only; Agents, brokers and carriers; customers directly, etc.)
MacDonald (Wunderite): We sell our software to insurance agents and brokers, however, there is a customer-facing login, and we are architecting the software to send high-quality, “top of stack” insurance submissions directly to insurance carriers and MGAs/wholesalers.
3. Who pays for the technology you offer? Is the cost considered commission income or a service fee?
MacDonald (Wunderite): To date, we have sold our technology for a service fee to insurance agents and brokers.
4. Are you disrupting (replacing) or empowering traditional distribution?
MacDonald (Wunderite): Having been an independent agent for nearly a decade, earned my producers license and multiple professional designations (CPCU CRM CIC LIA), and lobbied in D.C. alongside the Massachusetts Association of Insurance Agents with the Big I, I believe in the independent agent value chain. We are empowering traditional distribution. Agents today are hardworking and sharp; their tools have simply not evolved at the same pace as the world around us.
5. What should P/C insurance carriers know about you?
MacDonald (Wunderite): We want to help carriers get better quality insurance submissions, faster, in a structured, digital format. We designed the software to be intuitive for seasoned industry experts, for the Millennial/Gen X insurance producer and for end consumers. Our industry has a dense lexicon, and as a result, insurance feels like a black box to consumers and industry newcomers. We want to help cut through that and make it simple to understand.
Wunderite is an enabling platform founded by two business school colleagues who are insurance industry and business veterans. We are 100 percent bootstrapped, meaning that unlike most Insurtech startups, we have not taken a single dollar of outside capital. So, our top priority is not a “tech play” and five-year exit.
Joe [Joseph Schnare, Co-Founder and COO] and I both ran family businesses so we know what it is like to implement transformative technology to a “legacy” staff, and we know what it is like to be the buyer and seller of commercial insurance.
Agents love our approach to advancing their technology, and we look forward to building partnerships with insurance carriers to ensure a streamlined end-to-end customer experience.
6. Bonus Question: What does the future of commercial insurance distribution look like?
MacDonald (Wunderite): The immediate future looks like today: A vast distribution network of agents. As consumers expect and demand more, however, insurance agencies and carriers will evolve to better serve their customers and provide additional value in-line with their core competency.
Insurance is the original big data industry; and interest in big data/AI/ML is exploding across industries. Yet today, and this is verified from talking with hundreds of frontline employees, most insurance data and underwriting still starts with a yellow legal pad. The process of gathering insurance underwriting information is inefficient and a negative customer touchpoint, and also ill-prepared for the torrents of data being generated today by the IoT.
Agents and carriers that remove the friction to doing business, and that leverage their aggregated torrents of data into customer insight, will provide more value to their customers and succeed.