The Value of InsurTech Partnerships

The Value of InsurTech Partnerships

The Value of InsurTech Partnerships
May 26, 2022
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A Q&A With Bold Penguin COO Jim Struntz & Pathpoint CEO Alex Bargmann

Last month, we announced that Bold Penguin has integrated with Pathpoint. This partnership will expand Bold Penguin’s market capacity by delivering streamlined access to non-admitted products through Pathpoint’s technology solutions to users of the Bold Penguin Terminal.

Following the integration, Jim Struntz, Bold Penguin’s Chief Operating Officer, and Alex Bargmann, Pathpoint’s Chief Executive Officer, discuss their partnership and talk about why agreements like this are so important in the insurtech space.

Q. How did this integration come about? What made you recognize the opportunities that this partnership would afford your respective companies?

Jim: The first step was talking to Bold Penguin customers and learning about their desire to quote non-admitted products within our user experience. About a year ago, we came across Pathpoint and realized their products could help our customers access the digital E&S market. So, in the end, Bold Penguin customers helped us recognize the opportunities that this partnership would afford our customers and us.

Alex:  We were very fortunate. Bold Penguin, Chris Kessler specifically, approached us back in July of 2021. It was clear from the first conversation that we thought about the market in the same way. After hearing how clearly Bold Penguin could articulate the problem agents had accessing E&S capacity in a digital fashion, we realized we could wrap some of the key pieces of Pathpoint that streamline E&S placement so that Bold Penguin could leverage that technology and bring non-admitted into their Terminal.

By the second conversation, we were sharing data about where Bold Penguin clients were hitting dead ends and where Pathpoint could quote business across its carrier base. That really crystalized it. 

Q. What does this partnership mean for the E&S market? How does it benefit agents? Carriers?

Alex: Accessing the E&S market is a painstakingly slow process. As an independent agent, you submit to a wholesaler, you sit, you wait, and you don’t hear back. The value of technology lies in making the entire process easier and more transparent. Bold Penguin has built this great tool for agents to quote business and we get to be a piece of that – a bridge into E&S that leverages the data that agents and CSRs are already entering into Bold Penguin to more quickly present E&S options when the admitted markets aren’t available. 

Jim: While I think the carriers are always excited about the prospect of getting access to more agents and submissions, they also, thematically, have responded well to the partnership. Seeing a platform like Bold Penguin also recognize the benefits of Pathpoint’s alternative methods of trading E&S is a big proof point for us and for the carriers that have partnered with us to date.

The E&S market is primed for growth through digital distribution. In 2016, Bold Penguin started integrating commercial insurance carriers onto our platform to aid agents in seamlessly quoting small businesses. With over 3 million quotes, we have been successful in these efforts; however, many non-standard small business owners have passed through the platform, and we knew we could further streamline their experience.

Adding non-admitted products helps these businesses and the Bold Penguin Terminal agents connect digitally, and this is one of the next steps in our small business insurance quoting journey. 

Q. In the early days of insurtechs, leaders were looking to develop as many partnerships as possible. Is that still the best strategy or have companies become more selective about when and how they work together?

Jim: Bold Penguin has been, and continues to remain, focused on relationships that will enhance our quoting platform for insurance agents as they serve their small business customers. We have partnered with Pathpoint to provide agents using the Bold Penguin platform expanded access to non-admitted products, allowing them to efficiently support their new and existing customers who may not fit within the boundaries of traditional market appetite. 

Alex: Strategy is always going to be about circumstances. For us, and this is deeply structural, our ability to offer a rich quit of E&S appetite is premised on being able to execute carrier partnerships at a high level.

We realized, as we grew, that while we could help small independent agents access E&S easier, there was this amazing culmination of years of work to digitize standard lines commercial insurance, and being a partner to these players, particularly Bold Penguin, aligned with our strategy of scaling to independent agents around the country in a low touch way. I think partnerships make sense when each party has something to bring to the table and they’re both, for whatever reasons, willing to have candid and frank conversations about the trade-off inherent. 

Q. Do you see opportunities to leverage relationships like this one further? What might that look like?

Alex: Yes. We take the long view – working with Bold Penguin was not about hitting Q2 2022 growth targets. It was about delivering core commercial insurance infrastructure that makes E&S easier. Now that we’ve got it connected, if you will, we’ll continue to invest. Two thirds of our staff are in R&D. We’re not just bringing more product into the pipes, we’re also augmenting the user experience, as Bold Penguin continues to develop and expand itself, to take more process out of the process.

Jim: Our objective is to support small business owners' unique risk management needs and the agents who support them. To reach this goal,, one element of our plan is to continue extending access to non-admitted products and solutions through the Bold Penguin platform. We look forward to working with Pathpoint and other providers to make this happen.

From our work in the admitted market, we know that there will be early adopters, those agents who embrace the ability to triage, quote, and bind non-admitted business digitally. We feel Pathpoint can help extend our support to these agents. Our goal is to leverage relationships such as this one to fill the growing market demand originating through the Bold Penguin platform. 

Q. What makes a good partnership opportunity in today’s market? What should insurtech leaders look for in identifying mutually beneficial opportunities?

Jim: A good partnership in today’s insurtech market requires hard work from both parties. Whether it be ground-breaking innovation or simply reimagining and infusing a bit of technology into an existing process, the best partnerships are aligned on the desired outcome and equally committed to the path to get there. The Bold Penguin and Pathpoint teams were willing to roll up their sleeves and figure out solutions as we worked through integration. 

Alex: Figure out what your clients need or where your clients live. If there’s a like minded partner that delivers either the former or a latter, strongly consider it. Commercial insurance is complex.

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