Case study: Counterpart's upcoming broker API platform

Fresh off of raising $30 million in new venture funding, it is reaching out to brokers

Case study: Counterpart's upcoming broker API platform


By Mark Hollmer

Counterpart, a tech-savvy managing general underwriter, is gearing up to launch a new API platform designed to help brokers grow their businesses.

The Los-Angeles-based MGU is debuting the new platform on the heels of its recent $30 million Series B venture capital financing. (The money raise, announced March 01, will also be used to expand the company’s market reach and launch other new products on the MGU side).

As founder and CEO Tanner Hackett (pictured) explained it, the company is both old school and new school in terms of insurance industry participation. Counterpart, he said, “is blending traditional underwriting and distribution with this new framework to allow brokers to customize their workflows.”

Counterpart focuses on management liability lines – initially directors and officers, employment practices and fiduciary coverage for small businesses. Markel is the company’s carrier partner, though Hackett explained that there is a technology twist with its platform as it interacts with the regular coverage process.

“We’ve designed a system that uses proprietary data to augment the traditional methods for underwriting and make it really simple through technology workflows,” Hackett said.

Underwriters look for relevant data, including the culture of the potential insured client, the compliance and governance of the company and the business operations, and then determine their underwriting formulas. Counterpart uses what it calls “proprietary infrastructure to abstract that information and put it into a model or “data lake.” In addition, it works with engineers and data scientists to run that information through complex models to determine claim probability. Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are key components.

“We’re able to scour the internet and find breadcrumbs about [a potential] client company and put it into a format whereby the data team can build models on top of this,” Hackett said.

API platform

Counterpart envisions its new API platform as helping to boost its broker distribution partnerships. It has what Counterpart bills as “easy-to-integrate” APIs that help to digitize the application process, boost insurance purchase flow and establish customized user experiences.

“We want to make our underwriting platform accessible to anybody that receives applications,” Hackett said. “In doing so, if you’re familiar with these application APIs, you can take brokerages – they can have one application form and they hit our APIs, and we return the quotes and they don’t have to go to multiple markets.”

Markel manages a few other MGAs and the underwriting system/API platform is designed to fit with their underwriting guidelines. Hackett said that Counterpart helps to make this process very efficient and also improve distribution.

“We’re working with our own broker partners and helping to market this on behalf of Markel and make sure that we’re underwriting profitable business for them,” Hackett said.

How it will work

First, brokers sign an appointment with Counterpart. Then, Counterpart gives participating brokers access to its API documentation, which is all online. They integrate the API, which has the entire question set Counterpart offers along with optional and required questions. With each application posted, Counterpart returns the values to brokers, according to the platform design.

The process time will likely vary, according to Hackett.

“It really depends on the sophistication of the [brokers’ user interface and user experience],” Hackett said. “It can take as little as a few days. If [brokers] want to build out more robust time codes, it could take a week or two. But we tried to make this as simple as possible by making it very modular.”

As the system is just rolling out, Counterpart has launched its partnerships team to help coach brokers on the integration, use and dissemination of its platform APIs.

The pitch for integration is all about boosting broker efficiency, Hackett said.

“It’s allowing … brokers to reduce the administration burden while simultaneously building their own customized workflows,” Hackett said. “This does require an education … and awareness process of what’s accessible, and the value.”

Training times could unfold a number of ways.

“We’ve seen a few different ways this is handled,” Hackett said. “Oftentimes it starts with smaller [broker] units. You start with a team and you get the workflows going and then it is opened to a wider subset of the brokerage community.”

Ideally, Hackett said, the process should take a month from the time Counterpart hands over contracts, to the API integration, then training and launch.

Hackett revealed that the company is lining up a few partners, with formal announcements coming soon.

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