xagent, an InsurTech solution provider from Reston, VA, is changing the game with a brand new solution designed to help insurance agents shop, regardless of where they place their business. xagent’s cloud-based solution allows agents to streamline various quotes, and access both agency and carrier agency management systems via API. Despite making just a single entry, the information submitted by retail agents is shared among all parties in the distribution line—from the insured, to agent, to underwriter, to wholesale broker. In a conversation with CIO Applications, Bryan Baird, president and CEO of xagent, explains how his organization is helping shape the future of InsurTech.
What are the factors that led to the genesis of xagent?
For over 20 years, I have been operating in the industry as an insurance wholesaler, managing general agent, and retail agent. Back in the late 90s, the processes of sending applications back-and-forth were really slow, especially in nursing homes, where hundreds of pages of underwriting information and applications had to be manually prepared. Over the years, we started to collect and streamline data from third-party sources; information such as Medicare data, underwriting details, client data, in order to build predictive modeling and pricing. Unfortunately, we ran into two problems—firstly, the underwriting process was extremely subjective, and secondly, it was a very inefficient procedure that took over 90 days to gather and process information from agents, and multiple applications from different carriers.
How does your solution help insurance agents overcome those pain points?
We knew that there was need for this tedious process to be automated, and for it to move into predictive modeling and an objective underwriting rating system. Having already automated the processes of a business as complex as nursing homes, I felt I could duplicate the same. We began developing underwriting programs using data collection, and more data-driven models of pricing.
Our Leadership Council illustrates that our core customer is the independent agent
Why are insurance brokers still valuable in the digital age when everyone has access to so much information?
The retail insurance agent is the decision-maker in the buying process. However, the industry is focused on eliminating the agent to reach the consumer directly. Despite the rise of online services, consumers still lack education in insurance, and need an agent with a license to advise them. There’s still a requirement for the brokers to simplify the processes.
How exactly is your solution giving agents more options?
There are programs or surplus lines businesses in the market that delegate underwriting authority to companies like xagent, a managing general agent, or managing general underwriter. However, automation exists to a degree for small accounts, which becomes a major pain point for agents. While small accounts contribute to only 20 percent of an agent’s revenue, they make up 80 percent of the policies in an agent’s office and the process involved can be just as time-consuming as that of a big account. We solved that pain point by building tools and programs to address the agency adoption process. Since agencies use those tools, we can help carriers develop additional products for industries that haven’t been automated yet. That way, we can facilitate the process of agents moving into large account underwriting.
Could you touch upon your partnership with TrustedChoice.com?
Around seven years ago, Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America, the largest independent agency association in the U.S., launched TrustedChoice.com in partnership with all the major insurance companies. The idea behind the portal was to empower the 22,000 agents under their umbrella, to provide online marketing to the consumer and give them plenty of leads to pursue. Recently, we agreed to integrate our portal with theirs to allow consumers to get more pricing indications by means of automation. Since TrustedChoice gets millions of impressions per month, thousands of referrals of small companies are circulated across systems, and they prove to be leads for our agents.
Who constitutes The Leadership Council? What value does it add to the industry?
Built by the agents, and for the agents, the Leadership Council currently comprises 16 of the finest agencies. They have invested a total of $2.8 million into our platform as an equity investment. Their goal is to streamline small businesses, building integration not just between agency management systems, but allowing agents to run their businesses across the same platform. Our Leadership Council illustrates that our core customer is the independent agent.
What is the secret sauce to your success as an organization?
One word: perseverance. In the insurance industry, revenue-generation is a long process. But we have persevered by raising capital and building superior solutions. Now, we have a pipeline of carriers who want join our platform. On that front, we need to scale our integrations and development, and raise more capital, in order to accommodate more partners.
Are there any future plans that you’d like to share?
In 2019, we will integrate 40 carriers onto our platform. We have three specific goals: to scale our carrier integration, build deeper integration with our customers’ agency management systems, and finally, to consolidate the workflow with TrustedChoice.com.