Back in 2017, Next Insurance CEO Guy Goldstein wasn’t envisioning that his InsurTech would launch a portal of insurance agents just two years later.

When Carrier Management asked Goldstein, eight other InsurTech leaders, five traditional carrier CEOs, six more P/C carrier executives and another half-dozen experts with ties to the insurance industry (service providers, investors and legal advisers) to share their visions of what was on the horizon between 2017 and 2027, Goldstein said agents wouldn’t be distributing insurance.

“There is little doubt that the entire insurance process will be direct and online in the future. There will no longer be the need for a mediator (in this case, an agent) between the insurance provider and the customer, as this online system will enable the customer to buy, maintain and handle claims all in one place,” he predicted.

Just over two years later, in a Sept. 10, 2019 statement, Goldstein said, “We recognize that some business owners prefer to work with an agent, so in order to ensure that our product is available to all businesses, we launched Next for Agents.”

While Goldstein’s forecast for Carrier Management’s 2017 “Future of Insurance” feature missed the mark, with the likes of Root Insurance and Metromile also jumping on the agency distribution bandwagon in recent weeks, some of CM’s other 2017 prognosticators seemed more prophetic.

“P/C insurance will increasingly be distributed through alternate sources, such as embedded in the product covered, non-insurance distribution channels and single-peril/ single-object distribution,” said Tim Attia, the CEO of Slice Labs.

While Attia’s Slice was helping to sell insurance through Airbnb platforms at the time, he likely didn’t have an inkling about Root’s just announced partnership with Carvana, embedding personalized, bindable insurance quotes into the car ownership experience, nor any of the moves of leading tech brands to embed insurance in their platforms.

High on that list is Amazon. In March of this year, Goldstein’s Next announced that it was partnering with Amazon Business Prime, allowing Business Prime members to obtain Next Insurance quotes to buy a variety of general liability, professional liability, workers compensation, commercial auto, and tools and equipment coverages.

“We believe the future of the insurance buying experience involves meeting customers where they already are and making it easy to purchase customized and affordable policies,” said Goldstein, in a March 2021 statement about the partnership, making another futurist prediction that lined up pretty closely to his original one back in 2017.

Back in 2017, Bold Penguin’s CEO Ilya Bodner told Carrier Management, “Everyone wants to purchase things online the way they do from Amazon. The insurance industry may never reach that high bar, but we can always get better.”

Just last week, Amazon and Marsh revealed how InsurTechs like Bold Penguin, Next Insurance and Simply Business, are helping the insurance reach that high bar—by making the insurance policies of six leading carriers digitally available to U.S.-based businesses selling their wares on Amazon.

A lot has changed in four years.

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“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,” said Ask Kodiak Co-Founder Mike Albert back in 2017, leading off his prediction simply saying, “Change is on the horizon for the insurance industry.”

Albert’s InsurTech was recently acquired by IVANS; Bodner’s Bold Penguin was acquired by American Family last year.

In fact, five of the employers of leaders who predicted the future for Carrier Management back in 2017 have since been acquired, and two of the InsurTechs have ceased operating entirely.

Ten of the 26 individual leaders who participated in our “Future of Insurance” feature have left their prior positions, including Henna Karna, then global chief data officer at insurer AXA XL and now leader of Google’s Global Insurance & Risk Management Industry Solutions initiative, who’s vision of insurance carriers becoming analytical powerhouses nonetheless remains the same.

Recent news about InsurTech moves to invite independent agents back into their futures and to link up with major technology platforms in embedded insurance partnerships, prompted our recollections of a handful of our 2017 forecasters.

In today’s newsletter, we invite readers to look back at more of what Goldstein, Attia, Bodner, Karna and other leaders envisioned as they thought about how the insurance industry would change in the decade ahead. We’ll check back again in six years.

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