Applied Systems’ IVANS division has acquired Ask Kodiak, a Massachusetts-based InsurTech that provides commercial lines market appetite and search capabilities for the independent agency channel.

Neither side is disclosing financial terms.

Reid Holzworth

IVANS CEO Reid Holzworth said the acquisition makes strategic sense, helping to advance IVANS’ technology plans by a considerable margin. Ask Kodiak’s main technology lets agents search appetite, elibigibility and product highlights critical to rating, quoting and underwriting decisions in real time.

More than 20,000 agencies rely on the company’s technology to provide more than 8 million home, auto, and package rating transactions every month.

“The technology and the platform that these guys have built is absolutely amazing, and what it’s going to do is accelerate everything we’re doing around our market appetite engine,” Holzworth told Carrier Management in an interview.

Illinois-based Applied Systems is an insurance technology firm. IVANS, based in Florida, is an exchange that connects insurers, MGAs, agencies, and the insured, working with 33,000 independent insurance agencies and 430 MGA and insurer partners. IVANS also uses cloud-based software that automates the distribution and servicing of insurance products, and the Ask Kodiak acquisition is designed to help boost the capability and product lines of its IVANS Distribution Platform.

Allan Egbert

Regarding that platform – IVANS’ newest product, Holzworth said that blending it with Ask Kodiak’s technology will create a stronger product with a much wider reach.

“This completes the IVANS distribution platform in a major way,” he said. “IVANS has market appetite today, but not at the level that Ask Kodiak has. And their platform does so much more than [calculating] market appetite. It really helps accelerate everything we’re doing in commercial lines distribution and connectivity … I’m really excited about it.”

Once IVANS integrates Ask Kodiak’s market search and appetite communication technology with the IVANS Distribution Platform, carriers using Ask Kodiak’s modern interface will be able to define and manage appetite in real-time As well, they’ll gain the capacity to support accurate appetite communications and digital submissions, reducing operational cycle time and declination rates, according to the deal announcement. Agencies using commercial quoting products supported by IVANS Distribution Platform will now have access to Ask Kodiak’s advanced appetite matching capabilities to place more of their commercial lines business.

As well, IVANS will maintain Ask Kodiak’s current integrations to expand the company’s ecosystem of Insurtech partners and deepen current integrations with existing partners, further building out IVANS’ network of agencies, MGAs, insurers, and technology providers.

Ask Kodiak: Bootstrapped and Profitable

Michael Albert

Ask Kodiak will continue to keep its industry identity, Holzworth noted, and IVANS will keep the company’s five employees, including co-founders Michal Albert and Allan Egbert.

Ask Kodiak launched in 2015. It is relatively unusual among modern InsurTechs in that it never raised any venture capital. Its founders bootstrapped the company and was profitable before it was acquired, Egbert told Carrier Management.

“You put everything on the line and you pull the plug if it doesn’t work. That was the mission – to get customers,” Egbert said. “That was a priority over investment.”

Ask Kodiak developed a fairly large customer base, he added – with over 30 carrier clients including Liberty Mutual, Travelers, American Family and the MGA Attune. When the company’s tiered system is factored in, where customers can use the API and tools at varying levels, the number gets up to more than 100, Egbert said.

Egbert added that Ask Kodiak wasn’t originally intending to sell itself. The original idea was a partnership with IVANS, and talks evolved in “a natural progression” to a sale.

Holzworth noted that he and the Ask Kodiak co-founders have known each other “for many years” and trust each other.

“We think the same about a lot of things in the industry, so it’s just such a natural fit,” Holzworth said of the Ask Kodiak acquisition. “And then the technology is so bad-ass.”

Ask Kodiak’s co-founders will work for Holzworth directly, and they’ll run the new IVANS innovation lab, which is slated to launch in early 2022, Holzworth said.