Darcy Rittinger, chief operating officer at Cover Genius, says the ability to be nimble and move fast is what drew her to the InsurTech space initially. In fact, she thinks traditional carriers can learn a valuable lesson from how the space operates.

“The thing that has resonated with me most working in InsurTech is the ability to be nimble, to move fast, and to actually be innovative,” she said. “There are people within the carriers that want to do this, but in InsurTech, it’s really possible.”

She said that after spending more than a decade working for large global insurance carriers, she realized that she needed to take the leap into InsurTech.

“I understood, and was endlessly frustrated by, how long it takes to do anything in these organizations,” she said.

Indeed, Rittinger said that she got her start in insurance by working for several global insurers, which helped her understand the mechanics of the industry and gave her insights across the value chain in licensing and regulation, product development, portfolio management, and claims.

Darcy Rittinger

The opportunity to transition into InsurTech came after she was working for an insurance carrier in product development and helped to create a product, get it filed and approved across the states, only to be met with the challenge of how to encourage customers to see the value in it.

“When I met with the team at Cover Genius and they explained how they embed insurance products, it was like a lightbulb moment for me on distribution,” she said. “I couldn’t help but think of all the possible use cases for embedding different types of insurance products in different distribution channels, and I had to be a part of the team.”

Her role as COO at Cover Genius is one she’s held for more than two years after originally joining the company in 2018 as its director of insurance. In her role, she oversees operational functions and the company’s MGA licensing structure across 50 U.S. states, 10 Canadian Provinces and multiple LatAm regions.

Cover Genius, which has a focus on embedded insurance, was launched by co-founders Chris Bayley, chief innovation officer, and Angus McDonald, CEO, in 2014 after they discovered inefficiencies with insurance distribution while working in the travel space, Rittinger said. After the company was born, they began seeking to solve some of the distribution challenges in insurance. One of the ways Cover Genius does this is through its global distribution platform, Xcover, which has an API that optimizes and prices products and bundles policies from any category or underwriter.

“This enables us to provide customers with relevant policies in any country and language,” she said.

Rittinger said she believes now is the time to be working in embedded insurance, particularly as consumers’ wants and needs changed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Given our exposure to the travel industry, we were impacted by the pandemic. However, we were able to recover quickly in 2020 through new partnerships with companies like Wayfair and eBay,” she said. “By the end of the pandemic, we were a truly diversified business. We were also advantaged because consumer behavior had changed. Customers were more interested in protecting their purchases than ever before.”

As personalization becomes more important to customers, Rittinger said they are expecting a high level of engagement from the platforms and services they interact with in their daily lives.

“Embedded protection is no exception — consumers don’t want to be linked out to a third party or research options independently,” she said. “They want convenient offers at the right time and place.”

She believes this is just the beginning, adding that there is still enormous growth potential in the embedded insurance space.

“Protecting consumer purchases and experiences is more relevant than ever, and it makes sense for insurance to be integrated wherever possible,” she said. “Consumers want protection that is straightforward and easy to access, and they want it from their favorite digital brands.”

With this in mind, she said insurers will need to continue to learn from InsurTechs in harnessing speed and agility. But at the same time, it’s important for InsurTechs to draw from the expertise of those with strong legacies in the industry in order to truly be successful.

“One of the things I’m super proud of at Cover Genius is that while we are approaching insurance in a completely new way, we also have made a point to have a robust team of people with expertise who come from within the insurance industry,” she said. “It’s the same people who’ve been working for carriers and frustrated by the lack of speed and innovation who have been able to use their expertise to inform the way we’re approaching the industry here. I think, ultimately, that is one factor that has enabled Cover Genius to be successful where other InsurTechs have not.”