Next Insurance – an InsurTech focused on small business coverage – has closed its first acquisition. More could be on the horizon.

The California-based company startup acquired Juniper Labs, a provider of alternative open data and underwriting technology also focused on small businesses.

Neither side disclosed financial terms. Next raised $250 million in new financing in September, which it said would fuel continued national expansion of its digital small business insurance offerings. The company launched in 2016, has raised $631 million in venture capital to date and is thought to be an IPO candidate.

With the acquisition, Next will focus on innovation in workers compensation and general liability product offerings through the use of machine learning technology. Next’s acquisition announcement comes less than three months after it disclosed expansion of its workers compensation coverage into two dozen additional states.

Sofya Pogreb, Next Insurance’s COO, said in prepared remarks that Juniper Labs’ expertise will be a key ingredient for its growth plans.

“This strategic acquisition of Juniper Labs’ technology and expertise in workers compensation will deepen our investments in relevant technologies such as machine learning, which will help scale pricing and decision making,” Pogreb said in prepared remarks. “We look forward to bringing on the Juniper Labs team to further our goal of being the one-stop-shop for small business insurance.”

Specifically, Juniper Labs co-founder and CEO Lance Poole and his team will join Next Insurance’s machine learning and data analytics group. In that capacity, they will launch Next Insurance Data Labs, which is intended to combine human-centric design, actuarial science, and state-of-the-art machine learning to provide scalable products that drive growth and risk-based pricing. Additionally, the Juniper Labs team will help strengthen and scale Next Insurance’s workers’ compensation offering and other lines of business, Next Insurance said.

Juniper Labs launched in 2019 through the work of founders Poole and John Stevenson. The company uses open data and machine learning to help InsurTechs, carriers and brokers to more effectively sell and underwrite small business insurance. Using natural language processing, Juniper Labs blends fragmented data sources and unstructured content to provide more structured insights that strengthen the confidence and predictive power of their models, making possible more precise risk assessment and an easier experience for customers, the acquisition announcement noted.

Nearly 400 employees work for Next at this point, and three are with Juniper.

Pogreb said the company won’t rule out future acquisitions.

“We’ll continue to look for strategic acquisitions that we think can add value to the customer experience and that furthers us in our mission to be the one-stop-shop for small business insurance,” Pogreb told Carrier Management.

Next isn’t the only InsurTech to make an acquisition this year. CoverHound, a digital property/casualty insurance marketplace, was recently acquired by the insurance broker Brown & Brown. Buckle, Coalition and Hippo have also closed acquisitions in recent months.

Source: Next Insurance

Topics InsurTech Workers' Compensation Tech Data Driven Artificial Intelligence Underwriting