How National Programs’ innovative technology focus has boosted their companies’ growth
National Programs and parent company Brown & Brown pride themselves on the innovative technology built within its four walls as well as brought in from the Insurtech world. These innovations, in the form of new platforms, tools and more have already begun to increase the velocity of individual programs’ growth.
Last week we sat in on a conversation between Jimmy Curcio, chief strategy & analytics officer; Jimmy Saldana, director of strategic innovation; Ken Haywood, innovation analyst; and Duane Williams, Arrowhead’s marketing-communications vice president, as they discussed National Programs’ innovation and Insurtech adoptions.
“We’re akin to a tech start-up – iterating, refining and building playbooks to incorporate these new technologies. Have we stubbed our toe hundreds of times? Absolutely,” explains Jimmy Curcio.
“Back when National Programs first started by incorporating plug & play solutions from various Insurtech companies, we adopted the concept of failing fast,” adds Duane Williams. “As we test various technologies, some fail. Failure in this instance is not necessarily a negative, because we learned from each one.”
“So many PAs, MGAs and even carriers still operate like a #2 pencils in a dot-com world,” Williams added. “We at National Programs can’t just keep the pace, but we need to be out in front, setting the pace.”
Here are a few examples of the innovative technology we’ve incorporated, plus a sneak peek at what’s coming soon.
In 2020 we began integrating Ask Kodiak into our companies’ websites, digitizing and publicizing their appetites to make it easier for our producers to locate what they’re looking for. “This upgrade sounds simple, but it’s a big deal,” explains Saldana. “It helps producers save a lot of time, because they can quickly check our program appetites and automatically see appropriate NAICS codes, streamlining their quote/bind process.”
Innovative technology is helping us streamline the quote/bind process in Arrowhead’s portal, ArrowheadExchange.com, currently undergoing a complete refresh. The customer portal was recently modernized for a better customer experience; now the producer portal is being updated, making it easier to navigate and get a quote.
A third example is Arrowhead’s quote process for its Workers’ Compensation program which needed streamlining to save time for both our underwriters and agents submitting new business. Prior to the upgrade, every time agents submitted an application, they had to include any OSHA violations. That meant navigating to OSHA’s website to check that company for violations. With a new Insurtech tool, that process is now automatic.
“In many of our companies, we now intake the data through various tech partners to better automate and simplify the quote/bind process,” says Saldana.
“Our National Program companies together process tens of millions of documents each year,” says Curcio, highlighting an additional need for innovative technology. Several companies have adopted AI-driven Intelligent Intake solutions that not only extract data but also reduce the need for manual review.
Late last year Brown & Brown purchased CoverHound® to accelerate our expansion into the digital marketplace. Several National Programs companies have either completed or are in the process of creating an API for their products and launched them with CoverHound and other distributors such as DAIS for use by agents who use comparative raters.
“We call this our Strategic API Layer,” explains Curcio. “It will open a lot of doors, because it allows us flexibility in distributing our products along with an opportunity to greatly improve our customer experience.
“The customer expectation from their experiences in everyday life really lit a fire under this initiative. Let’s face it, the products we thought were way too niche to ever evolve their process are beginning to see this. The closer the product is towards to the commodity side, the faster you need to get going,” he adds.
National Programs’ claim service companies have adopted conversational AI (chatbots) to automate and streamline their claim process. At Wright Flood, an insured can enter a claim online at any time, 24/7. Claimants no longer need to wait on hold for a customer service rep. Not only does it save the customer a good deal of time – it allows the Wright team to be more agile and responsive.
ACM Claims also uses conversational AI in all lines of claims to intake first notice of loss data. Combined with another application, their auto claims division uses customers’ photos and then returns to them an automatic damage estimate. Results show that these two apps have significantly influenced loss severity.
Why the emphasis on innovative technology?
The innovation process is incorporated in everything we do on a national scale for National Programs. Our Strategic Innovation team scouts, tests, then incorporates the best solutions available. Their modus operandi is, “Let’s follow this option to see if it really works.” It takes high willingness to fail, the group agrees.
“Before we look at possible Insurtech solutions, we go through a lengthy due diligence process,” explains Ken Haywood. “Our team evaluates KPIs, resources, workloads, bottlenecks to find the inefficiencies that need fixing. We don’t just buy innovation. When we approach the market, we’ve done our homework, not only to find solutions for improvement but also have answered the question, How far do we need to take any new application and still be efficient? And what will be the ramifications of this new application?”
“Innovation is part of our DNA, beginning way back in 1983 with Arrowhead’s non-standard auto product,” Curcio added. “Technology is changing and upgrading rapidly, so we have to continually take a hard look at our business models and be on the lookout for new opportunities.
“We bring the best of both worlds, by keeping the decision of what to do with the local leaders, but supplementing the how with National Programs’ resources.”